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Niche directory categorization

How do you choose or create a category structure for a directory?

5:25 pm on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I'm new here, just found this forum through searching for some webmaster information.

I recently created my very first directory ever. It's a niche directory.

What I am wondering about is how to create categories and group the languages into those categories.

It's kind of easy for general directories because there are so many out there that you can get an idea of the categories, but for niche directories how do you determine how to create your categories?

I have some structure in place but there's so much overlap that I decided to see if anyone has any ideas that might help.

[edited by: Webwork at 7:33 pm (utc) on Feb. 28, 2008]
[edit reason] Tidying up per sticky exchange pre unlocking [/edit]

7:43 pm on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Hello "E" (=MC2?) and welcome to the Directory Forum. :)

As we agreed in our stickymail exchange we're not going to get into the specific niche of your directory. Instead we'll keep the discussion to generalized suggestions for fashioning a directory structure or website "taxonomy", i.e., filename structure.

First off I'd suggest scanning existing players "in the niche" to see how they have structured their website, forum, blog categories, magazine sections, etc. Does their structure make sense? Might you improve upon it?

It's important to take your time and plan for growth. There's a saying that goes something like this: "Good websites don't change their URLs/URIs". What that means is you may avoid a mountain of grief by planning for the future and the present - such as you're doing.

Past thread on this topic:


You might also scan some past WebmasterWorld threads on the topic of taxonomies:


[edited by: Webwork at 7:56 pm (utc) on Feb. 28, 2008]

9:02 pm on Feb 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yes it is E=MC2, he's one of my heroes! Thanks, the thread is a good resource. I already have a note asking link submitters to let me know what they think of the category structure and if there are changes I could make.

So far I haven't seen another directory quite in the same niche that I could get ideas from. I will take a look around some more. I want to plan it all out carefully before I have too many submissions to save myself the headache of having to move things around too much later. I'm not in a hurry to grow the directory, just want to take my time and lay the right foundation. A lot of the threads here have given me some great ideas.

Thanks for the links, I'll spend some time looking through them.

4:54 pm on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Perhaps the subject matter of your niche presents you with some natural structures for categorisation.




Okay pardon really basic examples :)

Actually I am finding that niche directories enjoy very low submissions until they have built up a very prominent reputation.

bonne chance

6:26 pm on Feb 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your reply.

Well, the subject matter of my directory has many overlapping branches, so to apply your example, metals could fall under chemistry, but also under physics, engineering, and other subjects.

So it becomes tricky to decide on where to put everything.

7:03 pm on Mar 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The first part of the answer won't help you much, but anyway: Creating taxonomies for sorting information (a URL is rather similiar to a video, a book, when you think about it. Only that URLs change content frequently ;-) ) is a very difficult job, which unfortunately needs a lot of experience. Studied librarians might be able to help you if you have any among your friends. I know someone who is teaching librarians (among other people) how to sort things, and is developing such structures for libraries/companies. But you are most likely not looking for rather expensive paid help. :-) The most difficult part is doing everything the best way from the beginning.

Which leads me to the second part of the answer, which might be more helpfull to you. In the ODP we discovered lots of times that the structure we had chosen a year ago for some part of the directory needs a change. Sometimes we made large efforts to completely restructure a part of the directory. Only to change things back to something similiar to the original situation a few months later, because the new system had proven even worse. meanwhile I (speaking for myself) came to the conclusion that the speed of changes in the online world does not allow for a stable taxonomy of websites. Which means it needs to be changed every so often.

If you are talking about a smallish niche directory, that might be different of course. Large companies for example are rather stable. In most cases, though, you will have to live with frequent (or not so frequent) changes. Prepare for that. And don't invest to much energy in finding the best solution to start with. ;-)

As a third part of the message , I can offer a few tipps from experience:
- Try to decide if you need a site listed in several places. If you have large overlaps, you might end up with different, parallel possibilities to search for sites. In the ODP for example we have place (Regional/...) and Topic in parallel. We can't mark a site listed in two places, we have to make a copy. So changes apply only to one of the listings. That was a mistake in planning the software, judging from today, don't make the same.

- If your niche is a special sort of industry, try to find printed industry directories, even oif they are old. They often are on the market for ages (compared with the web) and can give you a lot of help. I did some research on the german "Wer liefert Was" directory for a similiar problem once. Be prepared that their online versions are total rubbish compared to the old print versions.

- Try to decide if it wouldn't be better if you don't do categories but tags. Tag a site with as many keywords as you like, and create a directory independantly from the sites. For example if you tag a site with "Chemical Industry, London, Colours, B2B" it might appear in several spots of your directory (Something regional like .../London/Industrial_Companies, somthing topical like Business/Chemical/Colours, a special brand of the directory directed only to B2B customers, and so on). That basically allows you to modify your directory without touching a single listing. Won't be able to use an off-the-shelf software for that of course.

1:21 pm on Mar 2, 2008 (gmt 0)

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windharp > How about duplicate content issues and 'floating' categories/tags (showing the same content in several places on a directory)?

I have just made similar changes to my directory, but am a bit worried about how Google will react.

9:16 pm on Mar 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Another related concept to consider is the ontology - [en.wikipedia.org...] However, the SEO in me would be worried about creating empty stubs, which are detrimental to ranking. If you can keep these stubs to a minimum but let the submitter suggest new categories if they are a better classification.
7:19 am on Mar 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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How about duplicate content issues and 'floating' categories/tags (showing the same content in several places on a directory)?

If you don't have the same content excessively, I don't think Google will care. If the same entries appear in different places, but in different sets (like plumbers in London, plumbers with a speciality on <xyz>, plumbers in UK starrting with letter "Z") I don't think any searchengine will notice at all. That would a) be hell a lot of computing to do and b) not the idea behind dupe content checking.

Of course you might want to try and avoid completely identical categories. Maybe having the software realize that <.../a/b> is the same as <.../b/a> and issue a redirect would do the trick. But I am no SEO expert, and I am sure you will find it easier to decide knowing your exact field of work :-)

[edited by: Webwork at 2:50 pm (utc) on Mar. 9, 2008]
[edit reason] Fixed typo in quote tag [/edit]

5:51 am on Mar 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If I understand the problem, I don't see a need to put everything in a single cubbyhole.

If a site applies to multiple categories then simply link it to all that apply.

If your software doesn't support that level of normalization then there's a cheap cheat you could apply which is adding a keywords field per record and changing the various queries to locate by specific category or anything tagged with a keyword in the same query.

And no, Google doesn't seem to care as long as the content is relevant and isn't spammy in nature.