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Thursday, 21 November 2013

Web Directories - Performance, Purpose, Problems - A General Guide to Web Directories

The path to building a successful web directory is far from a simple task. It requires a certain amount of devotion to take a web directory script and transform it into a heavily used directory. Web directories contain more complexities than meets the eye, and I have learned first hand that the development of a quality web directory is no walk in the park. But a good web directory is worth its weight in gold, for both webmasters & internet surfers alike. Let us enter the world of web directories. A web directory acts much like a search engine, but on a much smaller scale. Web directories are essentially a categorized index of websites that have been submitted by website owners. Directories normally have search features, allowing users to search through the entire index, just like a search engine. The main differences between a directory and a search engine is that very few directories contain the amount of links that a search engine does. Search engines also collect data from websites, which is used to categorize and rank them. Directories lack the ability to "crawl", or exam websites as search engines due, therefore the only information a directory contains on a particular website is the information that was submitted by the website owner. Most directories use meta tags and keywords to search for websites, where as search engines use complex algorithms that take into consideration much more than meta tags (the value of meta tags in search engines has actually declined). Web directories are not the most popular internet search tools because huge search engines like Google and Yahoo are much more convenient to use and contain a vast amount of resources available to be searched. The largest and most popular web directory is the Open Directory Project (DMOZ), whose links are indexed by Google, Yahoo, and the majority of other search engines. Google and Yahoo both have their own web directories as well. Though independently owned web directories may not be so popular for internet searchers, they do have their benefits for webmasters & surfers alike. 

There is a large number of web directories on the internet today that have been blacklisted by Google. It is best to avoid these directories at all costs; having your link listed there will most likely negatively affect your search engine rankings. But how do you know which directories to submit your URL to and which ones to avoid? These guidelines in rating web directories may help:
1. Organization
- Web Directories should be well organized and categorized.
- Categories should be, neither, too broad nor too narrow. Category organization is important, but a directories search feature holds more value for finding links.
- Links should be easily accessible.
- Links should be posted into the correct category. If they are not, this is a sign of automated link approval, which should never be used in a directory. (Even the largest, most powerful of web directories are human edited).
- Poor quality and spam links should not be accepted into any decent web directory.
2. Advertisements
- A quality directory should contain a free submission option, so it is necessary for directories to offer sponsored listings and sale advertisement space. However, the page should not be cluttered with ads. This is a sign that the directory administration is too focused on making a quick buck than enhancing the internet experience.
- If the directory has a specific topic, or niche, than the advertisements should pertain to that topic. Off topic and irrelevant ads do not belong on niche directories.
3. Page Rank (PR)
- Rumor has it that it's possible to fake some page rank indicators. Make sure your page rank comes from a reliable source when examining the PR of a web directory.
- Page rank is important factor in website popularity. However, directories that boast high page ranks, or have their page rank in the directory name or slogan typically use the page rank factor to compensate for their downfalls. It's like bragging...and you want a modest web directory. Find a directory that shares and uses their page rank to the benefit of directory users, not a directory that clearly lacks in features but boasts a high PR.
- Directories that display website links within a category in descending order of PR are less desirable than those that display links based on popularity (unique hits). Most desirable first, not highest PR; very beneficial to new websites attempting to build initial PR.
4. No Follow Tag
- A web directory that uses "no follow" tags on all links is useless.
- "no follow" tags are acceptable on free submissions. Reciprocal & featured submissions should not be tagged as "no follow" links. This gives value and meaning to featured (sponsored) & reciprocal links, while controlling the amount of links indexed by search engines to a reasonable number.
- In a quality directory, do not fear a "no follow" on your free submission. A good directory brings in targeted traffic, and though you may be missing out on that back link, there is still a lot of potential for increasing traffic.
5. Reviews, Marketing, & Promotion
- Search around for reviews and recommendations on web directories. There are some really good resources when it comes to choosing quality directories.
- A web directory should be marketed to both webmasters & internet surfers. If a directory only attracts webmasters, what kind of web traffic is it likely to bring? Look into how the web directory is promoted and marketed. 
These 5 guidelines can help you distinguish between low quality link farms and high quality, effective web directories. I hope this information helps you in your website's marketing and promotion campaign, in terms of website directory submission.