Directory Archives Update

Oct 15th

I have sorta let the Directory Archives site go to crap (ie: be poorly maintained) for a number of reasons. I still like many of the better directories (like Yahoo!, DMOZ, Business.com, MSN Small Business Directory, BOTW, Gimpsy, JoeAnt), but outside of the top few general directories and a few high quality niche specific directories most directories probably do not pack much of a punch at manipulating Google's search results or delivering direct traffic. Given the flood of low quality directories, and their lesser value in manipulating search, I have not put as much emphasis on my directory of directories. All the following reasons play part in its reduced priority status:

  • Most directories are of limited quality. Building a high quality one is an expensive and time consuming process, and most of the people who have been creating directories over the last few years have not been concerned with quality. Most of them have been selling hollow PageRank to naive webmasters.

  • Search engines (especially Google) have limited the effectiveness of many low quality links, in some cases not only deweighting the value of low quality links, but if you have too high of a junk to quality link ration they may throw ranking penalties on your site or reduce your crawl depth or crawl priority. The reduced crawl depth and crawl priority (based on low quality inlinks and outlinks and duplicate content issues) also hit many of the directories themselves, causing many of their pages to be deindexed.
  • Social sites and consumer generated media add much more context to links than most directories do.
  • Social bookmarking sites have limited editorial costs and a huge number of editors, thus they are more comprehensive than most directories are, while having much higher profit margins.
  • So many people are blogging that if you can create something legitimately useful and get it a bit of exposure via your own blog or via the social sites then it is bound to pick up many high quality links.
  • Improving search relevancy coupled with this additional content makes directories less necessary. Various niche blogs, the Wikipedia, and other authoritative social sites have largely replaced most directories in the search results, thus reducing the direct traffic most directories send to listed websites.
  • Using the social sites is often a cheaper and more effective way of building a natural and diverse high quality backlink profile than by trying to build links from some of the lower quality directories. The social sites often lead to many secondary citations.

Rather than just killing off Directory Archives I added a social news and bookmarking section to it, such that it can still be used to help webmasters acquire good links and market their websites. In addition to listing social bookmarking and news sites it also has categories for sites like Squidoo and Work.com.

Published: October 15, 2006

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Comments

October 18, 2006 - 8:57pm

Sorry to be clear, I meant experts on a particular subject.

For example, i would rather browse a list of SEO sites that you recommended Aaron rather than the sites that google returns if you search for "SEO".

I dont think the experts from google can beat human experts from a specific field.

Brian M.
October 15, 2006 - 7:36am

I agree with you fully. Other than the few directories that you mention above, most of them are worthless (effect wise on SE rankings).
Two of the sites i work on are not listed in any directories (yet) and maintain 1st page rankings in Google, Yahoo, and MSN for keywords like "fleet tracking", "fleet management" and "solar tube".
I have never really understood why directories had that much effect on Search Engines.

October 15, 2006 - 7:39am

I have never really understood why directories had that much effect on Search Engines.

In the past there was not as much content and not as many people building links.

Keep in mind that at one point in time SEO was as easy as just hitting a certain keyword density, but as marketers get more aggressive the engines must evolve their algorithms.

October 15, 2006 - 1:06pm

I agree, outside of the top dozen general directories there is very little value. I think it is a good idea to leave the general indexing to social bookmarking.

I think the best use of a directory of directories is in listing niche directories and local directories. I just got done reading your post on passion in building businesses and SEO - I think you find more passion in the niche directories particularly in the less than commercial subjects. These are also more about human users and less about SEO, which might not be a bad thing but it is a reason they are often overlooked or dismissed by SEO's.

October 15, 2006 - 1:06pm

I agree, outside of the top dozen general directories there is very little value. I think it is a good idea to leave the general indexing to social bookmarking.

I think the best use of a directory of directories is in listing niche directories and local directories. I just got done reading your post on passion in building businesses and SEO - I think you find more passion in the niche directories particularly in the less than commercial subjects. These are also more about human users and less about SEO, which might not be a bad thing but it is a reason they are often overlooked or dismissed by SEO's.

October 15, 2006 - 2:19pm

Right there so much directories and a lot of them are holding worthless website (mirrors, made for adsense, non unique affiliate sites).

I agree it takes a lot of time to maintain a directory for "real" websites, but if you have one you will have worthfull resource in your websites network.

How often you get a link trade suggestion from a high value website which is not related, use this link to promote you diretory to make it better (that's my strategie of course)

October 16, 2006 - 4:08am

Thank you Aaron. There are a few new directories that are making a positive mark on the web. They will have to work harder to become valuable in the eyes of the engines than they have in the past.

A balanced approach is key, not just directory listings, or social links, blog posts or anything else. Balance will bring prosperity.

Gomer
October 16, 2006 - 10:11pm

Hey Aaron, thanks for a great post.

Would really like it if you could do a post sometime on how someone could go about promoting a site/idea within 43things specifically. There seems so much going on at that site, how do you go about getting an idea its maximum exposure to those that are interested in that 'thing' .

Gomer

November 6, 2006 - 8:15pm

I apologize for not getting back to reply to you, Aaron. Not sure anyone will read this at this much later date, but it's still deserving of a reply.

I agree that humans are biased and anything human-edited is biased, but i could say the same for a computer algorithm or a social bookmarking site.

For example, Google's algorithm often gives preference to sites that are "credible", which is good, but sometimes that plays out in a way that a poor or mediocre page from a "good" site gets preference over a good page from a "mediocre' site (at least as far as Google's algorithm is concerned).

Similar for social bookmarking--a site gets a mention on Lifehacker or some other well-trafficked blog and then it's suddenly all over delicious. The site isn't any better or worse than it was, but a mention in a single popular blog has caused people to bookmark it. I'm guessing that many delicious bookmarkers rarely if ever go back through their own bookmarks when they need something. There is sometimes a herd mentality, in which a popular site links to something, then all the delicious, etc. types bookmark it, and then it fades away. It's not necessarily a mark of quality; it's sometimes a mark of short-term popularity.

That's not to say that these sites aren't great; they are. We're just doing something different.

Our human editors will make decisions on rankings based on their own knowledge as well as the voice of site visitors, but ultimately it will be the editors that choose. (I should note our editors aren't volunteers whose personal agendas can easily be called into question, a la DMOZ or similar projects.)

We simply feel that having some sort of moderation creates a stronger product in the long run than giving the reins completely over to a voting scheme of some sort. The problems Digg has had recently with people gaming their system gives you a window into our thinking.

Sorry again for not answering in a timely fashion.

Adam Jusko
Founder & CEO
Bessed
http://www.bessed.com

October 17, 2006 - 12:32am

I think it is also important to note that most people do not search directories that much either. They tend to go right to a search engine instead.

With social networks and blogs you are not only getting a link but most likely getting a ton of actual visiters.

October 17, 2006 - 2:13pm

Aaron your are right that the majority of directories in their currently form are not useful for SEO purposes. The reason, you can be pay to be included, as they say an easy link is a worthless link.

I think there is still a place for directory if people forget the term “directory” and go back to original purpose, i.e. a short list of the very best sites in a specific category. The Internet is a big old place, search engines are very intelligent but it still can be time consuming and frustrating finding authority sites. Solution, a short list of highly recommended sites vetted by human experts to ensure quality. Dmoz I hear you shout, but the standard there is simply too low, and new high quality sites appear to take too long to be listed. A useful directory needs to provide quality sites, which are vetted and approved, without paid for listings.

October 17, 2006 - 3:07pm

Directories have become worth little because little is put into them. A paid directory is not seen as legitimate, because if you don't pay you don't exist, so from a user perspective the directory is useless because it is biased in favor of only those who pay, meaning it's not even close to comprehensive.

Other than Yahoo, DMOZ takes the top spot by default, because no one else has really tried to create something worthwhile. At the same time, Webmasters know that DMOZ has countless fiefdoms where one must prostrate one's self before the mighty category editor in hopes of a scrap of acknowledgment.

That's why I started a new search site, Bessed, that is a human-powered search site/directory. There is no fee for inclusion and, because it's built on WordPress blog software, you can request addition of your site directly on search results pages. You can also suggest other sites that are relevant, or even argue for why another site shouldn't appear or why the rankings should be changed. We think it's the next generation of directory-type sites, combining the benefits of human editors with a social media aspect to create better results.

The site is ad-supported, not supported by inclusion fees, so it is something that is actually useful for site visitors instead of being merely a place for Webmasters to submit in hopes of increasing their "Google juice". And there will never be inclusion fees--Bessed will either sink or swim, but it will never bait and switch.

It's an ambitious project, but we believe there is still a place for human-powered search, and we encourage Webmasters to submit to us.

October 17, 2006 - 6:54pm

Hi Adam
Given that all humans are biased how does your site scale as compared to a social bookmarking site? And is a vote on your site a greater sign of trust than a bookmark on a social site or a link on a website?

October 17, 2006 - 10:08pm

Scale is a problem but bookmarking sites can be messy and its difficult to find a concise list of the best sites in a specific category.

Would the best solution to combine the knowledge of experts with recommendations and ratings of many?

October 17, 2006 - 10:40pm

That is exactly what search already does.

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