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Directories Forum

Directory Lists that Rank Directories: Good Stuff or Fluff?
I see very little in the way of robust ranking criteria

 3:57 pm on Oct 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've read lots and lots and lots of posts, at a variety of forums and blogs and other sources, that basically call for or offer "ranked lists" of web directories. In my view the lists don't have much meat on their bones. In forums, threads about posting ranked lists of web directories are often - but not always and not in all ways - little more than voting, promotional lists. In any event, often the main criteria for each directory's ranking in the list has something - little more - to do with anything other than PageRank. "Oooooo, BlahBlahBlahDirectory.tld has a PR of infinite!"

Toolbar PageRank? Has anyone read Martinibuster's comments about the dubious status of toolbar PR?

Add to that this question: PR on what page? The directory's homepage? Well, that just about decides the winner, doesn't it? Forget the listings on page Dir/Dogs/Labs/.... is less than 0, as are the other 40,000 pages . . . but I digress.

Now that I've suggested that I have some doubts about the state of "directory ranking" allow me to ask a question: Taking anyone's personal, hierarchical list of the #2, #3, etc. directory: "What is the criteria that you apply to place - to rank - a directory in a #2, #3, etc. position"? What is the criteria that you apply?

Is it just pagerank for their index page? Why do you think that matters? Do you see any serious shortcommings with that model?

What about traffic? Is traffic thrown off by the directory a useful criteria? Yes, I would think so, but how do you know their traffic unless it's hitting pages on your own sites - the ones listed in the ###Directory.com?

What about quality of traffic - like in filtered, prequalified leads? Is it the quality of the traffic that is thrown off that ought to matter in ranking a directory? Are you able to measure the conversion rate of traffic coming from any given directory?

Is it time for the directoryranking dialogue to mature? IF it matures might that reshape where the entire "directory industry" is heading?

<Caveat: I am not asking for another list of directories, so please let's not go there. Thank you.>

[edited by: Webwork at 4:16 pm (utc) on Oct. 8, 2006]



 4:12 pm on Oct 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

When I add links to my directory, what counts is that they are "decent" sites that are appropriate for the particular categories.

I would never get involved in ranking sites in any way. Keeping a directory comprehensive and current is enough without having to keep making sure your reviews still apply.


 4:19 pm on Oct 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Car_guy, my bad if my wording mislead you. This thread isn't about directories that internally rank the websites they list. This thread is about threads and blogs and articles that rank directory websites themselves. You know the type: "Here's my list of the 100 best directories . . . "

Car_Guy, you have provided an idea for an interesting future thread that might plumb the depths (or shallows) of various issues surrounding directories that rank the websites they list. (Go ahead and start that one Car_Guy.) ;)


 4:29 pm on Oct 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Here's my list of the 100 best directories"

That sounds like an MFA site that's about MFA sites.


 2:28 am on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the threads, blogs, articles that rank directories are worthless. They are very shallow in content and they eventually dissappear into forum non-existence.

I have seen entire sites that are directories of directories. Some are good, most are bad. If nothing else, they give you a place to find directories easily.


 7:06 am on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Now that I've suggested that I have some doubts about the state of "directory ranking" allow me to ask a question: Taking anyone's personal, hierarchical list of the #2, #3, etc. directory: "What is the criteria that you apply to place - to rank - a directory in a #2, #3, etc. position"? What is the criteria that you apply?

I take it that you are opening this question to all-comers, and not just those SEM bloggers "sitting in their underwear" that you appear to have been reading...

1) Who would I be surrounded by in the relevant category?
2) How good/bad is the category structure and site architecture?
3) How visible is the directory is my chosen area?

Is it time for the directoryranking dialogue to mature? IF it matures might that reshape where the entire "directory industry" is heading?

LOL. Wishing on a star, Webwork?

The Contractor

 3:09 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Every site/page I've come across that ranks directories do so based upon SEO, Google PR, etcetera. This is a failed ranking system. If I was to rank directories using unbiased criteria all of the major "general" directories would fail.

Directories are (normally) nothing more than lists of external resources. The problems that arise with "general" directories are in their editorial policies, administrative heirarchy, and their failures to adhere to/apply the same criteria for the resources listed and the editors listing the resources. Niche directories seldom run into this problem although you wouldn't know it by taking a look at the vast majority of them. I have seen directories "of" directories out there, but they seem to fail when it comes to their editorial policies.

It would be tough to rank directories as you would have to come up with criteria in order to give all directories an unbiased opinion/value. Right now, most people view them for SEO purposes (which needs to change).


 3:10 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Visibility in a niche? What does "visibility" mean or include? I'm guessing it means something more that currently showing up in search engine results pages. Might include industry recognition of its authority, inclusion in industry journals, etc.

In my view "visibility" - for a directory to be viable - requires something more durable than search engine love, though SE love can be potent whilst also being emphemeral. Ain't no marriage contract nor divorce court enforcement for the promise of SE love, ya know? ;)

Category structure? Architecture? By that you mean taxonomy and directory structure? So, clean, easy to navigate, directory/nav lends to your directory ranking algo? I'd add those criteris first to my quality score. Still, more is needed.

Who would surround your listing? Hmmm. Interesting. So, unrelated or spammy sites in the same section of the directory's navigational directory structure pulls down the directory's rank in your ranking algo? Makes sense.

Any other criteria that you all think ought to be applied, when it comes to "ranking a directory", other than the famously non-robust current standard of ranking - which goes something like this: "I has an index.htm toolbar PR of # - So it ranks #3 on my list"?

[edited by: Webwork at 3:12 pm (utc) on Oct. 11, 2006]


 3:17 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

It strikes me that any attempt to "rank a directory" would have to attempt to answer the questions set forth in this thread, about Questions to Ask When a Directory Calls to Solicit Your Company's Paid Listing [webmasterworld.com].

Such an effort to rank would therefore require a) considerably more effort than is devoted to the many, current online directory ranking publications; and, b) to actually work chances are that the directories being ranked would have to publish information that they might not wish to publish - for reasons both good and bad.

How's this for a hypothetical ranking formula:

Rank ~ # Leads DIVIDED BY Leads that convert
TIMES Value-per-converted-lead DIVIDED BY Cost-of-listing-per-year

50 Leads a Year
10 Convert to Sales
$2,000 Revenue / Sale
$50./Year for Listing
400 Ranking Power

The forumla needs adjusting for the revenue side to reflect the revenue level. (Your turn)

Now that information, if it was available, would be pretty good stuff, right? But . . . .

a) Who would want to let this information out to the public? The advertiser? Noooooo. The advertiser obviously has a very good deal going.

b) The directory operator? Ummmm . . . I'm not sure IF they knew their power to deliver they would only charge $50. in this scenario . . . Soooooooo

How do we rank a directory?

What might be a bona fide metric, other than Toolbar PR, which - as has been proven in the past - is subject to gaming AND is likely an overvalued metric?

Rank by:

Inbound Authority Links? (Define authority in any space and identify whether that authority has been bought and paid for.)

Total Listings?

Quality of Listings? (Spam-o-rama links? Etc.)

Traffic? Inbound Traffic Sources?

Site architecture?


Ability to deliver relevant information?

Seems to me that the current ranking criteria - PR - is a) about as good as it gets (for now); and, b) is seriously lacking in the guidance capacity of the metric.

[edited by: Webwork at 3:40 pm (utc) on Oct. 11, 2006]


 3:34 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

As you say, Webwork, visibility involves more than (although includes) rankings - meaning are the people I would expect to be talking about it doing so, are the people I would expect to be featured in it actually in there, and is it or could it be a "neutral's choice" (for example, by traditional media referencing it).

Category structure and architecture doesn't just include taxonomy but also how the power and traffic flows through the site and how that is distributed. Is it flat or hierarchical? Is it easy to get to the category I'm interested in? Is it in a logical place? (One particular directory which is frequently referenced as one of the "respected" ones falls foul of this point in my book.)

Who is around me? Good sites put the reputation up, dud ones bring it down.

Another point for you. If directories are prostituting themselves, are they doing it as a profession or just to get though college? Do they know the rules of the game or are they liable to turn up at your front door when your Uncle Matt is round for a visit?


 3:34 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Directories are dead. Long live directories.

The rise of link influenced SE's led to the propogation of directories whose only purpose was to provide a link - usually for a "cost" (either money or links, which have become the currency of the Internet).

Is it any wonder we now have directories of directories of directories of......

I have my own little (proprietary) list of directories that actually provide some small amount of traffic. Think local. Think niche. Think small. The right directory, often a labor of love, sometimes nothing more than a categorized list of favorites, can provide easy access to long tail searchers.

What's that? Well, it might well be easier to be found by someone looking for "lower slobovian wombat hackles for fly tying" by being listed in the right directory than in trying to develop natural rankings. And, the directory listing might in some cases be enough to give one the natural ranking.


The Contractor

 3:56 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Webwork, I see we are looking at this from different angles. You are basing your criteria from a submitters point of view. I would look at it in a much broader view if I was to "rank" directories. Actually it would be based more upon the editorial policies (adhered to) and the taxonomy itself.

Does the structure/taxonomy make sense?
Is it easy to navigate?
How comprehensive is the directory on any given topic/category (which doesn't necessarily mean large)?
Do you receive any errors while browsing/searching?
Can you browse categories without seeing obvious signs of favoritism in the listings?
Do the listings all adhere to a given format for titles/descriptions?
What makes it stand out from being just another site/page of "links"?
What is the quality of the listings/resources (has nothing to do with web design of the resource)?
Is the search feature (if applicable) even reasonably accurate?
Is the site responsive?
What are the criteria of submitting?
How responsive is the site owners/editors to contacts?
How often is the directory updated in any given category?
How long can one to expect to wait on average for their submission to be approved/denied? (the only reason for this question is a directory and it's categories should include recent resources as "things" change often)


 4:38 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

My understanding is that some of those lists have affiliate relationships with the directories they're ranking. Some of them are as useless as web hosting recommendation lists.


 4:54 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>some of those lists have affiliate relationships with the directories they're ranking

Tell me it ain't so! What's next, web hosting rankings that are influenced by such payments? ;)

I don't know that there is a good way to rank directories - there are different characteristics that may be important to different site managers. Direct traffic, conversion rates, PR transmission, anchor text flexibility, ease of navigation/taxonomy, perception in the niche, etc. may all be a factor for different people. It seems sort of like ranking "cars" - one person may prefer a zippy two-seater sports car, another a mammoth SUV, and yet another an elegant 5-seat sedan. There's not an absolute set of criteria that applies to everyone.


 5:29 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Quality directories are useful things to have around.

And the key question is "What Is A Quality Directory?"

I have no faith in any 'ranking' system for directories, but they can be classified in a number of useful ways, for example:

Is it free; annual fee, or one-off fee?

Is it ad-free, carry ads, buried in ads?

Are entries edited, not editied, badly edited?

... and so on.


 5:32 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I run a successful niche directory. Thank you for your wishes for the demise of my creation...

I sell advertising to businesses that are interested in getting leads that convert to sales. They don't care about page rank. My clients think that I provide a great service by giving them a cost-effective way to get new business.

Big general directories appreciate my creation because it is a trusted source of information for them to catalog.

The public that cares about my niche appreciates my directory for the resources it provides, as well as its general information and entertaining information.

I have no idea whether my directory shows up on directories of directories lists, and I don't care about getting clients, who are just looking to boost their standings in major search engines. I want clients, who offer a product or service that my site's visitors will want.

No doubt there are plenty of bogus directories out there built in pursuit of a fast and easy return, but time will sort out the good from the bad. Let's not condemn the entire concept, please!


 5:49 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just prepared an SEO document today instructing a site to list itself in directories x,y,z.

Was it fluff? No. If they list in those directories they run a better chance of being found than not listing.

Was it worth it? Well, I told them LOTS of other stuff about their site that they apparently did not already know so, YEAH, my fee was probably worth it to them and . . . some of directories were free so YEAH that was worth it and some of them were paid directories but cost/benefit for 1 new customer gained makes all four that I named worth it so YEAH.

That's 3 YEAHs and 0 fluff. THANKS


 6:37 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

I believe the downfall to most directory rankings is that they don't focus on a specific industry.

Many directories can be very useful to one industry, while having almost no use in another. There are many reasons this can happen. A directory can have a high page rank for one category and no PR for another. A directory can have traffic pertaining to one industry and nothing pertaining to another. An industry can have a limited source of links (very small niche industries) while other can have an almost infinite array of linking possibilities. If I was to market bungee jumping potatoes, and if Jayde had a category for this, a listing here would be a lot more valuable than a listing in the online contest industry. This is because it is easy to get links from contest related sites to your contest site, while it is almost impossible to get bungee jumping potato links (since they are so few), so any link you can get will help. Also, some industry links can be very expensive to buy while others can be dirt cheap.

So the only way I believe directory rankings have value is if they are industry specific. Some factors I consider important:

1- How many back links does the directory have? What is the quality of the back links (do they have links from prominent players in your industry?)?
2- Does the directory (or one of its pages) come up under industry terms?
3- How many results come up under a search for the directory name? Are the comments good/bad?
4- The PR of the page you want your site on.
5- The amount of links on the page you want your site on, as well as the quality of the links you will be next to.
6- Does the category page you want have links pointing directly to it?
7- What is the value of a link in your industry? For a lawyer’s website, links would be a lot more expensive then for a ring tone website. So $60 for a listing might seem high to the ring tone guy, but to the lawyer's SEO, this is a very small portion of a marketing budget.

I would have added traffic, but since this isn't measurable from an outside stand point, I did not include this as a factor in my list.


 12:21 am on Oct 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have a list of directories and my main criteria is if this site is trying to cheat people, i.e., with a link that will either (1) harm their site or (2) not add to their link count.

Directories that don't even deserve a lisiting do one or more of the following:

302 or 301 redirects
putting linkis in Frames
spammy pages (million sub domains)
Too many links per page (MFA)
rel="nofollow"on the links
Javascript links
"More info" or "details" pages with title in title or too much detail so they outrank the site
Page loads too slow (banners or faulty code)
Alphebetized listings (your link will change pages)
Dynamic urls with too many parementers
URLs with too many hyphens in file names
Too many Google ads on top of page
Google ads purposely disguised so you click on them
Too many categories on each page
Not enough sub categories


 12:50 am on Oct 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Moderator's Note: Dang, I knew there was a bunch of very bright people lurking around the Directory Forum. :) Good to see y'all . . and please keep coming around.

Hopefully the dialogue will be getting more interesting - by your leave - as we get a bit more robust in our analysis and hashing out of ideas surrounding the directory / vertical search / human organized-categorized search models . . . and put a lid on the DMOZ grievance threads. To the DMOZ aggrieved: Sorry, but those days are over. There's so much more interesting stuff to discuss.

[edited by: Webwork at 12:53 am (utc) on Oct. 12, 2006]

mister charlie

 2:06 am on Oct 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hopefully the dialogue will be getting more interesting - by your leave - as we get a bit more robust in our analysis and hashing out of ideas surrounding the directory / vertical search / human organized-categorized search models

Welcomed news indeed. I for one look forward to reading everybody's ideas.


 7:39 am on Oct 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

A couple of ideas from thedirecoryblog

In the directory field the vast majority are general directories whos only value is a free seo friendly backlink. The actual value of that backlink is probably very very low, and if it is not, it will be in short order as the SE´s devalue those links.

So we come to the what directories are worth it questions (worth it in you time and or the fee). To cut and paste from a recent blog post ...

1.Published editorial/submission guidelines.
2.Editors that stick to these published guidelines (aka editorial integrity).
3.Unique category structure (clearly if your a geographic directory thats near impossible)
4.Quality sites in the directory (whether submitted by site owners or included by an editor)*
5.Quality unique descriptions that help a visitor to understand what the site offers without having to click on the link.

find a way to quantify these and I believe you have a way to list directories adequatly.


 8:03 am on Oct 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Good List!

I think (1) is a vital part of a quality directory, and could be the basis of categorizing directories.

The broad categories would have to be preset, of course: Pure Spam, MFA, Indirect Linking and Demanding Reciprocal Link, all being grounds for exclusion.

Once you get to the Quality arena, it gets more difficult ...

Categorizing is useful for potential users, as well as for webmasters - who seem to be leading this thread ;) - but ranking, which is much more specific is probably not useful; how can you compare ODP (free), Yahoo! (paid for) and a comprehensive specialist directory?


 8:06 am on Oct 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

surely, the only ranking mechanism needed for directories are the search engines themselves. if the directory ranks in your niche, then list in it. if not, don't. where else does their traffic come from?


 9:18 am on Oct 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

if the directory ranks in your niche, then list in it. if not, don't. where else does their traffic come from?

This would be a very useful metric, if it weren't so darn hard to figure out. A good directory needs traffic from both webmasters and the general public, or in the case of a niche directory from its niche audience. The former is important for getting a good flow of listings coming in, but without the latter it is ultimately no use.

Search engines are only one way to reach a general or niche audience. If you could compare the advertising spend in traditional media like print, radio and TV, that might be a good way to rank directories. Or by advertising spend on non-webmaster-related forums and websites.


 10:39 am on Oct 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

If it looks Kosher I choose some random listings and check if G is showing the link...

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