Why do web directories thrive in an age where so many people rely on search engines? Internet directories present curated, organized lists of related websites, where searchers can find websites based on a known category rather than the keywords that happen to make up those websites’ contents. Search engines depend on a website containing the given keyword in order to find it, whereas an online directory will direct visitors to the correct page even if the site contains no words at all.
Web or link directories are websites that specialize in linking to websites and sorting those links by category. Unlike a search engine, web directories may wholly ignore the keywords making up a web site’s body text. There are generally no robots feeding links to web directories, rather, the entries are found and sorted into categories and sub categories by human workers. Generally, directories allow website owners to request their websites be included, and then they use editors to ensure suggested links for suitability and correct categorization.
Internet directories have a long history, likely predating search engines as a means of finding content on the Web. As the Web was being developed, World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee hosted and edited a list of websites on his web space at CERN.
Modern directories are often very general in scope, listing websites over a wide set or regions, categories, and languages. Still, there are some very successful niche directories which focus on specialist areas of the Internet which search engines may not adequately cover. Shopping directories, which list retail ecommerce websites, are perhaps the most popular type of niche web directory. A good example of a niche directory is Healthcare Directory a website containing website links to health related sites.
Among the generalist directories, the Yahoo! Directory and Open Directory Project are good examples of popular generalist web directory sites. The Open Directory Project, or ODP, is notable for the breadth of its categorization and extremely large number of website listings, as well as being freely available for other directories or search engines to base their listings on.
Many of the human edited directories use volunteer editors to curate links in different categories, and the editors may be experts in the relevant subject areas. This means that links and categorization may be quite authoritative, but it also gives rise to long delays in approving websites. To solve this problem, some web directories have started using “wiki” type pages to let the community help where needed.
Directory based sites are not subject to manipulation by search engine optimization techniques, which has made them a desirable place for many webmasters to list their sites — and a target for search engine optimization specialists looking to boost the rankings of clients’ pages. As a result, some web directories will let webmasters pay extra in order to get weight from their link (by virtue of not having a nofollow tag attached), rank higher, or in some cases be included at all. No matter what the model, directory submission is not subject to automation like search engine submissions and optimization tends to be. This limits the degree to which the system is widely gamed.
Bottom line, an expert advise for Internet marketers and website owners – submit your site to as many directories possible. prefer human-edited sites and consider allocating some budget to submit your website to good paid directories.