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This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >     
Future of Directories
Initiating a Collective Thought
McMohan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 9:40 am on Mar 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

In this forum we have been talking about directories, most of the times Yahoo and ODP. What we know, but haven't talked much about are the lesser known directories that are mushrooming at a never before pace. It isn't a closely guarded fact that, most of those have just come into being with a sole purpose of giving webmasters an opportunity to get "one more link" to appease Google.

Isn't it time we asked, what will happen to directories tomorrow? (I am not talking about niche directories since they will always have a role to play irrespective of their prospect with Google, if run properly.) Directory as a concept of listing websites in categories sustainable in the long run? If no (which I am almost certain of), then what should they do to be sustainable over the long run?, say over the next - 1 year, 2 years, 5 years.

My forecast (with my past experience and instinct as inputs) says that, Search engines will introduce into their algorithm that distingishes few trusted directories such as ODP and Yahoo, and devalue all other directory listings. If itsn't happening today, will happen tomorrow. The word will spread, webmasters will spend less time on directories, directory as a component in the link popularity mix will gradually lose out, to a point where FFA, Guestbooks are at now. Majority of today's directories will shut shops.

Need of the hour is to change. This is the time to change if one is serious about running a directory for a long time. And change to a point where the directory is no more a "directory" as we know today, but something more.

It can transform as a portal that gets a lot of traffic and doesn't have its fortunes tied to Google or Search Engines.

It can transform to be a collection of knowledge, a la wikipedia, and provide contextual benefit to webmasters seeking link popularity.

Avenues can be many and the limit is as much as one's imagination and creativity goes. Any one who feels for directories, I hope, would want to add to this thread.

 

dataguy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 11:38 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Interesting question. I make my living and employ a few people from my directories, so I'm sure I have a biased opinion. This being said, I don't think directories are going to fade in popularity. They will change and adapt to become more useful and to be sure most of the directories which exist today will dry up and become virual ghost towns, but directories will still thrive as their usefulness continues to grow.

Search engines are already good at distinguishing between the popular directories and the others. I believe search engines will value them as long as people value them.

Look at search engines themselves. It wasn't too long ago that the big SE's were gobbling up the smaller search engines and everyone was fearing that this would lead to fewer choices. Truth is that today there are many more search engines to choose from than there was 5 years ago. Some do very interesting things with their listings, often too radical to fit into the mainstream. Mainstream today anyway.

I will add to your guestbook analogy and suggest that 1.) there are probably more guestbooks in use today than ever before, and 2.) much of Web 2.0 is really "guestbooks on steroids".

Those of us who manage directories need to figure out how to put our directories on steroids as well. That's what I'm doing, how about you?

Webwork

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 3:22 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Search engines will introduce into their algorithm that distingishes few trusted directories such as ODP and Yahoo, and devalue all other directory listings.

There's a thought that makes me shudder, but not for the reason you may first think.

IMHO the idea/belief/notion/thought that a directory would/should/ought to depend on a search engine for it's vitality is a symptom that the directory is headed for trouble.

Do everything - and I mean everything - to assure that whatever you build IS NOT AT ALL dependent on search engine love (or even passing liking) for it's growth and vitality. No kidding. I truly believe anyone venturing into this space needs to grasp that.

It's my observation that, for most people at work in this realm, they are headed in entirely the wrong direction: They spend their time in pursuit of SE love. Their very survival depends on it and that's how they view their world.

Bad business model. Fire your brain and get a new one.

If you can't get your head around the notion that a directory ought to be able to launch, grow and stand on its own - without any assistance from search engines - then you ought not get too invested in the realm of building a directory. No kidding.

Directories and search engines are essentially at war. They have every reason NOT to be friends. That doesn't mean directories and search engines can't be friends.

For example, there's no real need to "fear the competition". What directory will ever be a real threat to Google? (Lulling Google to sleep here.:)

Indeed, the SEs are likely to have a mutually beneficial relationship with any given directory - to the extent that the SE may provide an contextual ad feed where there is revenue sharing.

However, that said, forget they exist. Act like they don't exist. Starting to get it? Such thinking is a sign of a healthy directory business plan.

Just one man's opinion, but one that has been forming since about 1998, when I first considered and began to explore the future vitality of the realm of the directory.

Think about it and start to work on the idea: "This directory will stand the test of time whether or not a search engine ever loves it, gives it a hug, likes some branch of it, etc."

Listen: I am NOT saying "No, don't ever love my directory Ms. Search Engine." I am NOT saying "I don't want to be loved by you Mr. Search Engine." I am not saying "Screw the search engines, full speed ahead."

What I am saying is that it is essential - integral - IMHO, to to the plans of anyone who in any way has any attachment to the realm of directories and making them work "for the long haul", that you 100% put the role of search engines OUTSIDE of your business plan: If any SE likes you today, great. If the SEs don't even want to see you, no problem. Plan to grow and survive and thrive in an interpretation of the world where search engines don't even exist.

Does that thought in any way perturb you? Shake up your thinking? Get you to look at the world and your business plan in a different light? I hope so.

Am I a nut or did I just hand you the manual for success in this realm? I dunno. I just may be crazy. I may be crazy to encourage or lead anyone to think outside the search box.

You may also notice that part of my strategy has been to make it just a little bit easier for people to find their way to whatever I choose to build in the way of a directory. Frankly, I look forward to a future in which there is a broad choice of search engines, targeted to all manner of vertical markets.

I'm kinda fond of vertical search myself. :)

I suggest you consider the same strategy, to whatever degree you are able.

Rosalind

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 1:17 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I notice that a lot of new off-the-shelf directories are general ones. I don't think their owners have really thought out the implications of trying to sort through all of the sites on the net, to find and categorise the best ones. It's a herculean task, and most are setting themselves up for failure.

The future is undoubtably niche, and my feeling is that the niche directories that succeed will be the ones that operate in the most specific niches, providing focused expertise rather than trying to take on the world.

ownerrim

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 2:18 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

"The future is undoubtably niche, and my feeling is that the niche directories that succeed will be the ones that operate in the most specific niches, providing focused expertise rather than trying to take on the world."

Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. General directories that pop up daily are known for...nothing, really. But true niche directories can cater to eager audiences the same way that:

1. matt drudge caters to news junkies.

2. harry knowles (aintitcoolnews) caters to movie buffs.

3. webmasterworld caters to webmasters set on a path of global web domination---Muhahaha!

None of these aforementioned sites are directories, however, they all convey a strong sense of genuineness, trustworthiness, and being in tune with their audiences. And there's no reason why a true niche directory that's built by someone who has an interest and/or background in the niche can't have the same characteristics.

stoner3221

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 2:26 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree that some directories will become trusted sources and the vast majority of directories built as link farms will become useless to webmasters and fade from existence. The internet is constantly evolving and the serious directory operator must keep up with the ever changing environment. Directories have been around long before search engines and the quality directory will in my opinion always have a vital role on the internet.
A good directory must work with search engines as a trusted source for quality human reviewed content. When you have put years of development into a directory and get search engine concentrations of millions of pages you have a strong marketing tool for the webmaster and a great deal of traffic from organic searches. The major error I see with a lot of well intended directories is not developing the vital search engine concentration that will be necessary to survive.

The Contractor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 2:57 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

My forecast (with my past experience and instinct as inputs) says that, Search engines will introduce into their algorithm that distingishes few trusted directories such as ODP and Yahoo, and devalue all other directory listings. If itsn't happening today, will happen tomorrow. The word will spread, webmasters will spend less time on directories, directory as a component in the link popularity mix will gradually lose out, to a point where FFA, Guestbooks are at now. Majority of today's directories will shut shops.

I believe they (search engines) have started down that road quite a while ago. General directories "if popular" are way too much work for a couple dozen people to take care of if you plan to keep any type of quality (actually reviewing, describing, and categorizing the sites/submissions). The problems with general directories are - they are so large very few inexperienced users will drill down to find what they want. This leaves it up to the search engines like Google to direct users to the proper category of listings. If they dropped returning results to directories, most directories would never be seen. My own belief is general directories have been dead although I still have respect for one or two and some of the people who manage them.

If you can't get your head around the notion that a directory ought to be able to launch, grow and stand on its own - without any assistance from search engines - then you ought not get too invested in the realm of building a directory. No kidding.

Directories and search engines are essentially at war. They have every reason NOT to be friends. That doesn't mean directories and search engines can't be friends.

Am I a nut or did I just hand you the manual for success in this realm? I dunno. I just may be crazy. I may be crazy to encourage or lead anyone to think outside the search box.

Yes, you are nuts..hehe
I guess it all depends on your measure of success. If you are building a directory because you are interested in the subject, classifying/categorizing sites/listings, and you don't care if it turns a dime or not for your time - then you are correct. I'm not saying directories or any other type of site has to turn a profit to be successful, it all depends on how one measures success. The truth of the matter is people are relying on search engines more - not less, so if you fail to take that into account you could be on the losing end. The idealism that you don't need search engines is a great one- the facts reflect differently. For every website that does not need to rely on search engines for the bulk of their traffic I would venture to say that there are "conservatively" at least 500,000 that do. If you can build a one-in-500,000 website and maintain it, I say the more power to you and congratulations!

As far as niche directories, I believe they will fade soon if that's all they are. I really enjoy directories, but you really have to be different and add some value to the site besides pages of listings in my opinion.

Langers

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 3:35 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I also agree. I have recently set up a couple of niche web directories.

mister charlie

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 3:56 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

the vast majority of directories built as link farms will become useless to webmasters and fade from existence.

can't that be said of most websites, in general? how many are actually built for the long haul? being able to plan two, four, five years down the road takes a special type of person, regardless of the industry.

It's my observation that, for most people at work in this realm, they are headed in entirely the wrong direction: They spend their time in pursuit of SE love. Their very survival depends on it and that's how they view their world.

once again, i would argue that this is a mistake not specific to the directory industry. far too many webmasters are one-trick ponies. of course search traffic should not be ignored, but a wise business owner would never place all their eggs in one basket.

General directories "if popular" are way too much work for a couple dozen people to take care of if you plan to keep any type of quality (actually reviewing, describing, and categorizing the sites/submissions).

absolutely. most people have absolutely no clue as to the amount of work it takes to maintain, grow, market, and manage a sizable directory. it truly is a monumental undertaking, and only the directories that properly manage growth will endure.

Search engines will introduce into their algorithm that distinguishes few trusted directories such as ODP and Yahoo, and devalue all other directory listings.

are you referring to TrustRank? wouldn't this again be applicable to all websites, and not just directories? shouldn't all webmasters be focused on building a quality, authoritative resource that engines, and visitors, will view as a reliable source of information?

people have been crying about the demise of the directory model for five or six years. yet, many directories are stronger than ever. i think it all boils down to quality - those directories (and other sites) that focus on quality content and user experience are well positioned to ride the ups and downs of doing business online. those that are in it for the quick buck will be sniffed out.

treeline

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 5:04 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Niche directories gain a lot of their power from people new to the niche, excited to learn about it. Suddenly, they stumble across a resource that guides them to and through all the best parts of the subject they are thirsty to get as much of as possible. As they grow and develop in the field, the directory was one of their key resources and holds fond memories. They tend to rely on it from then on, and point others eager to learn to it as well. They love the organization, the weeding out, the inclusion of very relevant (but keyword-unrelated) sites that a search engine just doesn't touch.

The loyalty of these people combined with the traffic pulls in the old hands wanting to be listed or advertise. The niche directory gets stronger as it goes forward and captures the heart of more people involved in its subject. A few cool web tools uniquely tailored to that niche clinch the deal.

General directories just don't have these benefits. No sense of belonging to a particular community. No well tailored selection of sites beyond the obvious. There are of course a handful, such as ODP, that have achieved such astonishing scope to be well worthwhile on their own. Otherwise most general directories are too general and dependent on webmasters adding their own sites. Leads to an inherent bias. Hard to picture where the point of most of these are beyond a link service to webmasters.

ownerrim

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 5:25 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

"I really enjoy directories, but you really have to be different and add some value to the site besides pages of listings in my opinion."

Agree. A directory that really caters to an enthusiastic niche should also offer articles and perhaps other useful features such as current news. This would give users multiple reasons to return to the site, bookmark, and possibly link to it.

"most people have absolutely no clue as to the amount of work it takes to maintain, grow, market, and manage a sizable directory. it truly is a monumental undertaking, and only the directories that properly manage growth will endure."

But, you know, with a true niche directory, you wouldn't have to focus on including every single site that could concievably be included. You could simply rely more on editorial inclusion i.e. include only the very best sites for a particular niche. Personally, I gotten a lot more use out of very selective link lists versus scattergun style directories which I've generally found to be useless. Your directory would be smaller, of course, but it would be perceived to be of higher quality. Combine that perception with genuine resources and well-written articles and you would be adding something of value to users and this would inevitably show--over time with organically gained links--in the serps.

ronburk

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 7:35 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google has done the directory ecosystem a big favor by devaluing the worst of them. Real humans are increasingly unlikely to refer to any pay-me-$50-and-I'll-link-to-you directory when they can type a couple of words into Google and get better results. Real humans are increasingly unlikely to pay $50 for a link as Google gets better at identifying and devaluing those kinds of inbound links.

Google (and any other search engine that becomes broadly popular) will continue to eat into the relevancy of the least knowledge-intensive directories. This is a threat to these directories, no doubt.

It's also an opportunity for the more knowledge-intensive directories. People are hungry for informative, authoritative reviews when they shop. Search engines and nearly-automated directories are poor sources for these (or at least I certainly find mostly spam and anonymous drivel when I Google for "whatever-product +review").

The Successful Directory of the Future

  • Is narrowly focussed, not one of those home pages that give you 64 different categories to click on, from clothes to iPods to IT services.
  • Is knowledge-intensive, with guides, tutorials and reviews, not just 2-sentence blurbs with a hotlink.
  • Is authoritative and opinionated, and either eschews linking to some relevant sites, or else paints a clear difference between first-tier outbound links and less valuable/relevant/trustworthy/reliable destinations.
  • Is updated regularly, so that users (and Google) come to rely on it for up-to-date information on that niche.
  • Naturally ends up with targeted, high-quality, relevant inbound links, which will earn them Google love for the foreseeable future.
  • Forms community. Not in the slashdot sense, not in the flickr sense, but in the sense that the most hardcore people active in that niche interact with the website (if even it's only to send mail about mistakes or news), and help tell others about the directory.
  • Forms relationships with its listees. This is the opposite of the dream of monetizing the directory in a highly automated never-have-to-talk-to-people fashion. The nature and form of the relationship depends somewhat on how/whether the listees are a revenue stream.

Hmm, maybe that describes the successful directory of today, as well.

bears5122

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 8:11 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

To be blunt, haven't general directories technically been dead from a user standpoint since the invention of search? How often do you really pull up one of these directories to search for something before Google? To be honest, most directories out there are simply glorified link farms.

As for the future, it really depends on what type. The general directory that pops up and sells links for a few bucks with a short description may always be around in some way. They will evolve to not seem like a directory to the search engines, but in the end, they will always be a link farm and rely on submissions to survive.

The ones that will survive and flourish are those that offer something unique, something extra, something you can't get from a normal search. For instance a directory of Italian restaurants in Chicago with menus, reviews, and information on the chef. These are the directories that will build traffic through word-of-mouth, links, and other sources. Over time they'll appear high on the search engines and get even more traffic.

So it is impossible to judge the future of directories as a whole. Those that offer something unique, something useful, and something users will actually want to use will thrive. Those that are generic, outdated, and offer nothing of value will slowly fade into the backdrop.

mindaugas13

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 8:39 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Speaking of ODP, when's the last time you ever used it for anything (other than SEO-related activity/research)?

Can someone explain to me what a person might actually find useful about it?

"Community" sites, whether they include forums, blog with comments, directory ala wiki - those, if taylored enough to a specific niche - all seem useful and relevant. The time it takes to drill down is the saved time that made Google what it is. Unless you run a community-based/interactive website or a directory that covers a niche topic very well, how can you be sucessful in the long haul?

drshields

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 8:58 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think a few people have touched on this concept already, but here is my take:

I believe that we will start to see a new rising in directories - not necessarily 'niche' directories, perse, however unless search engines - ALL of them - seriously change their algorithms, Search will begin to become more and more useless.

With literally thousands of new adsense-puppies 'get rich quick by posting keyword articles for clicks' creating thousands upon thousands of utterly USELESS pages, every day, and internet users finding these shallow pages of useless content, eventually we'll get to a point where search engines aren't taken seriously, as you'll almost surely get a bunch of random nonsense from people looking to make money with advertising.

Here is where I see the web going. If I have a question about my achey knee, I won't go to google and ask 'why does my knee hurt' - I'll go to WebMD. If I want to know what the best action movie of last year is, I won't go to google and ask 'best action flick of 2005' - I'll go to imdb. And if I want to understand the new features in CSS3, I go to webmasterworld, not google.

See my point? People won't want to wate time with searches, unknowing where it will take them. They will want to know that the results they are getting are coming from legit, authoritative services, not 'www.your-search-string-here.info/your-search-string-with-lots-of-adsense.htm'

Just my two cents.

bears5122

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 9:33 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

drshields, I think people do that already. I'd imagine many of those sites you named don't receive a majority of their traffic from search and would still survive without search engines.

Although results aren't great on the search engines these days, they aren't that bad where they are unusable. I still look up a majority of stuff on them.

So you think people will stop using search engines because they are getting Adsense sites but use directories filled with paid listings from, well, adsense sites.

mister charlie

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 9:38 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Speaking of ODP, when's the last time you ever used it for anything (other than SEO-related activity/research)?

joe public has never used dmoz. and while nobody would argue that dmoz has it's flaws, i think that the internet is a better place because of it. additionally, i think that resources of the caliber of dmoz will continue to quietly support the architecture of the internet.

colinf

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 9:45 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

drshields.

Absolutely spot on.
The main search engines are such huge oceans of information that the majority of users are still able to find some kind of acceptable results in their searches. Ever so slowly, but ever so surely, as more and more sewage is poured into these oceans, people will start turning away and looking for alternatives....enter the niche engines.

c

ikkyu

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 9:58 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

What about the social bookmarking sites? Aren't directories just a bunch of organized bookmarks? What if you could take one of these growing social bookmarking sites, get some programming wiz to write an algo that can take some of the spamminess out of it and catagorize what s left? You then would have a site that could be called a directory as well as a way to search them based on tags.
I believe this is the next step forward in a directory, and would soon replace the ODP. Isn't that what the ODP is about anyway? A group of volunteers that adds their favorites for the rest of the net to benefit from? Only this way truly takes it to the next level. You would eliminate conflicts of interest that ODP editors have and have a much broader base of volunteers to get valuable links from.

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 10:00 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Why are directories so bad? Why do webmasters always speculate that directories are nothing but spam and forecast the global demise of all directories? Human-edited directories, that are created with care and purpose, can signal quality (of the sites/pages listed) to search algorithms.

For most directories, human editors are involve; they can reject sites that do not meet predetermined criteria and add sites that do, ultimately creating a very useful resource. Just like there are many search engines, there are also many directories, each with it's own following.

treeline

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 10:09 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

There are a class of directories that Search Engines have given rise to in recent years, and these are the ones most at risk. General directories and yellow pages type directories came into favor on SERPs presumably because of their strong heirarchy and great internal link-text. Suddenly these sites placed really well for zillions of terms. The challenge was what to do with the traffic. Enter Google Adsense.

The timing on directories placing really well and Adsense was similar, and as long as the traffic comes in it's almost better if your links aren't too good -- encourages clicking on paying adsense ads.

All this encourages more directories, and button-pushing directory creation. Unfortunately all these weak sites start cluttering the SERPs and pushing quality and relevancy down. There is a conflict for SE's in cleaning it up, because the ads do get clicked on....

However, any business that loses sight of their customers' best interests is ultimately in trouble, so SE's will eventually find a way to clean this up and that's when this business model collapses.

rohitj

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 10:15 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I get the feeling that some people think that a search engine algorithm may dictate what is popular or what people see, and the newest trends. Granted, getting a ton of traffic from google or yahoo wouldn't hurt, but the bottomline is what succeeds are the things that help people the most. If an algorithm chooses not to place value on a directory for whatever reason, that's one thing--but you can't move to the conclusion that, consequently, directories are going to disappear or that people listed in directories won't gain benefit.

In fact many "experts" believe we're going to shift to niche directories for information. It was even mentioned here recently. The fact that you can go to a site and get a bunch of links exactly catered to that topic (completely reviewed by a human who may even be a professional in that field) is something that algorithms will aspire to do but won't do perfectly. The only way to get it 100 percent perfect is by hand with sites like directories that have editors. There are definately flaws, like biases towards some sites or integrating affiliate programs, but that's where visitors need to perform their own due diligence on such information.

treeline

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 10:27 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Isn't it time we asked, what will happen to directories tomorrow? (I am not talking about niche directories since they will always have a role to play irrespective of their prospect with Google, if run properly.)

Let's remember that from the original question, there are 2 different kinds of directories being discussed here. Niche directories and the more general ones. The general point is that general directories are in for some tough times unlesss they adapt. Can they adapt? How should they? (the general ones, the niche ones already do)

ownerrim

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 2:13 pm on Mar 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Here is where I see the web going. If I have a question about my achey knee, I won't go to google and ask 'why does my knee hurt' - I'll go to WebMD. If I want to know what the best action movie of last year is, I won't go to google and ask 'best action flick of 2005' - I'll go to imdb. And if I want to understand the new features in CSS3, I go to webmasterworld, not google."

You know, even with the new commercials being run by webmd, most people have still never heard of it. Most webmasters don't visit webmasterworld and a sizeable percentage have never heard of it. Aintitcoolnews is probably the most successful fan-driven movie site out there---if I asked 100 people on the street if they've ever been to the site, they'll go "aintit...what's that?"

There are too many niches and too many websites out there for the vast majority of web users to ever be familiar with more than a handful of them. IMO, search will ALWAYS be the primary vector for finding new information.

And...consider the fact that many people who are websurfing use engines simply to see what will come up, similar to flipping channels on tv. I have a few hundred channels---do you think I remember what even 30 of them are? NO. I flip channels, often...just to see what I will come across.

Search is not just about being a means to an end. Search is an activity in itself. If it wasn't, people would have tired of the web long ago.

europeforvisitors



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 1:46 am on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

There are too many niches and too many websites out there for the vast majority of web users to ever be familiar with more than a handful of them. IMO, search will ALWAYS be the primary vector for finding new information.

Exactly--not only because most Web users aren't familiar with all the niches and the leading sites within those niches, but also because they can't count on finding everything they need when they do go to one of those major niche sites.

I might be able to count on finding general information on London, Paris, or Rome if I go to one of the big travel sites, for example, but what if I want to know about Maratea (a small town in Italy's Basilicata region) or Muenster (a medium-size German university city that isn't even mentioned by the big guidebook-powered sites)? The only way I can count on finding information is to try Google or another spidered search engine that will point me to the town or city's official tourist-office site and (if I'm lucky) to third-party articles on those places.

ssling

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 2:54 am on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

treeline is correct in pulling the discussion back to general directories, the topic of the original post, but some of the tangents in this thread capture the essence of what is wrong with the web today, imho.

the rise of the search engine as an alternative to directories for finding what you want has come full circle. pre-google spammy sites with hidden text and misladen keyword stuffing clogged the serps with useless results. general directories like yahoo were the only reliable way to avoid the clutter.

the advent of google's pagerank and other filters for relevancy transformed search and rendered general directories superfluous: why drill down five levels to to find what you want (whoops! wrong category, start over....) when entering a keyword or two and hitting enter got you what you wanted?

today, however, spammy serps are back and it's more insidious than ever. not only do "made for adsense" sites clog up many popular searches, but these sites are adwords users themselves, creating the self-perpetuating ppc loops that annoy so many users.

search engines, facing a conflict of interest between delivering relevancy vs. delivering profits (from ad revenues), will continue to allow this pollution to continue, imo. if general directories want to benefit from that trend i believe this is the angle: resist the temptation to allow (good paying) spam into your site. there are so many overt, non-annoying ways to turn a profit on a website these days, why not create a satifying spam-free user experience and earn trust, links and bookmarks that will be much more valuable in the long run.

having said that, i'm a big believer in niche directories (over general ones) and i think these will become ever more important. when i'm in "browse a topic" mode (as opposed to pointed search, a la europeforvisitors comment above), i usually close the serp window as soon as i find a decent niche directory on the subject i'm researching.

nedguy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 10:20 am on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

I run a Niche Expert Directory (NED, as in Nedguy) that I'd like to think matches Ronburk's definition of a "Successful Directory of the Future" (msg#12)

But while I'm convinced there is a useful role for NEDs, I don't expect much future for them other than survival.

The reason NEDs will only survive, not take over any role from search engines, is that while search engines can achieve 46% relevancy, they only need to achieve 10% relevancy. This is because the majority of ordinary users are (too easily!) satisfied if they find just one relevant result on the first page.

In my niche I know how truly appalling and useless the search engines are. (It's why I set it up in the first place.) But the problem is, ordinary users don't know that and aren't inquisitive enough to find out.

The only thing that will improve the future for NEDs is if the public begin to recognise that there might be more than one answer to any search and that those alternatives answers might be better.

I don't see that mindset changing anytime soon.

(Although ironically if one of the major search engines broke ranks and showed the public what 75% relevancy looks like, that might help!)

[edited by: engine at 12:43 pm (utc) on Mar. 10, 2006]
[edit reason] No urls, thanks. See TOS [webmasterworld.com] [/edit]

Go2

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 7:06 pm on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

Here is an old discussion [webmasterworld.com] from many years ago. I don't know if you think it is still relevant.

Anyway, I think the main issue is between automation and manual adminstration. My view of web directory 2.0 is a ubiquitous taxonomy employed by anyone by simply defining a tag. There may be many front end sites and front end applications. All that is needed is a simple RSS feed. The question is: who will be in charge of the taxonomy?

Wlauzon

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 1:04 am on Mar 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

today, however, spammy serps are back and it's more insidious than ever. not only do "made for adsense" sites clog up many popular searches, but these sites are adwords users themselves, creating the self-perpetuating ppc loops that annoy so many users.

I think it is just a matter of time before those get weeded out - if not by Google then by a competitor.

If they don't, and continue to flourish, it will make search engines almost useless.

A year ago I could do a search on widgets, and come up with 8 pages of people making or selling widgets.

Now I come up with 8 pages of Adwords spam sites selling ad space for Adwords.

If Google does not fix it, someone else will. But I wonder if Google is willing to give up the revenue stream those sites generate? I wonder how much those sites actually DO generate?

As far as directories go, I think the only viable model is a paid inclusion type - even if the fee is only $1 a year, that is the only way to keep them from getting filled up with total crap, like so many of the DMOZ categories are - especially with no quality control.

ssling

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2678 posted 2:43 am on Mar 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

ned guy says:
"(Although ironically if one of the major search engines broke ranks and showed the public what 75% relevancy looks like, that might help!)"

Wlauzon says:
"If Google does not fix it, someone else will."

also, nedguy says: "I don't see that mindset changing anytime soon.". I have to agree with that. I'm afraid the "box of hair"* level of sophistication of most web users isn't going to improve anytime soon. so if a niche directory caters to non-web-savvy users, some high intensity seo to become that one link users click on is probably the only way forward...

*srry can't remember who posted that elsewhere but it's my new favorite quote

[edited by: skibum at 5:56 pm (utc) on Mar. 12, 2006]
[edit reason] no link drops please, thanks [/edit]

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