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Resurrection

AVVO, Yelp, TripAdvisor and So Many More

     
5:08 pm on Sep 14, 2016 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Directories dead? No. Not dead by a long shot.

Yelp. TripAdvisor. AVVO. Many popular websites/apps are a directory at heart - they feature organized business listings - but those directories are now embellished/~improved, mostly via consumer "reviews" or "ratings" . . of the directory/business listings. (Did I mention a recent search engine buy-in to Care.com? Hey, look! https: // www. care .com/care-directory)

So, reviews save the day and ressurect the directory model, even though each review, individually, is of limited value because:
> they're - anonymous "friends of" or insiders
> tastes vary and I don't know how our tastes, priorities, etc. compare
> experience varies
> etc

Collectively considered, well filtered (for spam, etc.) and read with a discerning eye, reviews yield certain value.

Of course, there's the old wisdom about "consuming the review vs. experiencing the here and now" . . but that's another discussion.

Oh, and in or with "the directory reborn" there are articles, wrapped around the core subject matter listings . . err . . the directory . . which articles often are simply another form of a review: long form, well formed, one person's POV, review.

I'm seeing directories everywhere. Some very well funded, like AVVO to the tune of $70 million USD. (Still, I am concerned for AVVO's potential for a post-IPO burn down since AVVO looks to rely heavily on SEO, at which it succeeds nicely . . for the moment. Can you say "eHow"? Oh, but I know, it's not eHow. It just doesn't own/control the SERPs.)

Did I mention "apps as directories"? No? Okay, a topic for later.

Life, anew, for the poor scorned directory. The directory is not dead. It's reborn, repackaged, re-presented as the latest version of "search engine / value to user" friendly . . directory . . because it's been wrapped with reviews, ratings, articles.

Of course, the SERPs as links-to-destination~directory, while simultaneously attempting to compete with the increasingly popular ~directory-with- embedded-reviews/ratings, is an interesting phenomena. Search engines say "Do this! Don't do that! Search engines help trash business models and practices. (Directories are bad! Paid links are bad! Support them and we'll hurt you SEO types!) By doing so search engines compel the emergence of new and improved ~directory models . . which new and improved . . directories . . then begin eating into the traffic the SERPs and search engines once enjoyed . . and then the search engines start to scrape the reviews and ratings . . or they attempt to craft their own ratings and review systems . . to go along with their SERPs-as-directory . . You get the picture.

Interesting times. The directory is dead. Long live the directory.
9:33 pm on Sept 14, 2016 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Search engines help trash business models...


Those business models were the unintended consequence of search engines. One could say the search engines begat directories but that's going too far. Marketers begat directories in order to benefit from search engines. Directories were in the business of selling links to SEOs, not in providing a useful service to site visitors. It was the shortsighted focus by some directory publishers that doomed their business model.

If they'd provided a better user experience beyond a page of links then they may have prospered and in fact directories that did that did indeed prosper. During their heyday I consistently encouraged that business model to focus on the user, not on the web publisher and I consistently warned against "SEO Friendly" directories.

Lead generation married to providing a useful service to users was the long term goal that many companies succeeded with. Today one could (and should) begin by providing a solid benefit for users, creating a destination that does not depend on search traffic. Search dependent businesses are short term, like a surfer waiting for the next wave. Businesses that focus on becoming an independent destination have always been the way forward. You can't go wrong focusing on providing a benefit to users, creating something that is so useful that they can't wait to tell their friends and family about it.

[edited by: martinibuster at 10:29 pm (utc) on Sep 14, 2016]

10:04 pm on Sept 14, 2016 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Wow, I think I am going to print this quote and frame it on my wall!
Today one could (and should) begin by providing a solid benefit for users, creating a destination that does not depend on search traffic. Search dependent businesses are short term, like a surfer waiting for the next wave. Businesses that focus on becoming an independent destination have always been the way forward. You can't go wrong focusing on providing a benefit to users, creating something that is so useful that they can't wait to tell their friends and family about it.

This is a perfect explanation for why a former employer failed. And it is exactly what I tried to point out to the owner time and time again.
8:06 am on Sept 15, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Those business models were the unintended consequence of search engines. One could say the search engines begat directories but that's going too far. Marketers begat directories in order to benefit from search engines.
To some extent, directories came before search engines in the evolution of the web. They had a kind of happy time from the early 1990s to 1997. The .com/net/org registries started to charge for registrations in 1995 and it was a two year registration period. This meant that a site had a nominal maximum life of two years from the registration date. However it wasn't until one year registrations were introduced that sites/domains had a nominal life of one year. The dotBomb clear out of a lot of sites and businesses built on poor business models also removed sites from the web. But this site removal was the real reason that search engines overtook directories. Directories had to manually check that links still existed or were the same sites. Search engines did that automatically in each crawl. Linkrot hit most directories before their operators even realised what was happening. In 2004, the renewal rate for a one year registrations in .COM was around 75%. Most .com domain names registered for initially for a year would be renewed. By 2015, that renewal rate had dropped, according to Verisign, to 50%. That means that out of .com domains registered on this day last year, approximately half of them will not be renewed. That means that sites built on those domains will also disappear. The .COM web has become a lot more fluid that it was and while search engines have some chance of keeping up with these drops, the directories that still exist may find it near to impossible.

In 2003, Google launched Adsense and some of the immediate beneficiaries were directories. Every webdev thought that they could build one and the number of cookie cutter directories with Adsense mushroomed. The problem was that most of these webdevs were completely clueless on how to get content. Dmoz offered an easy backfill but in terms of new sites, the directory operators had to either look for sites or rely on others to submit them. Directory operators quickly found out that they didn't scale well horizontally and getting new content was a lot more difficult than it looked.

Relying on others to submit new sites held the seeds of its own destruction. While early directories had a kind of community that would help each other, the search engines made it easier for people to find what they wanted. Thus they didn't need to go to directories as much as in the past. It wasn't as important for businesses to be included in directories if they were in search engines. (This was the coming of age and growth of the SEO business, to some extent.) Most directories could not compete with search engines for fresh content so directories were forced to specialise or provide "value added" services such as reviews and cookie cutter websites. But Google's reliance on its PR algorithm meant that some directories got a new lease of life and selling links became more important.

Directories were in the business of selling links to SEOs, not in providing a useful service to site visitors. It was the shortsighted focus by some directory publishers that doomed their business model.
Well this wasn't a viable long-term business plan and Google tried to kill as many directories as possible. The Dmoz backfill was an easy way to hit many of them as to Google's inelegant algorithm/kludgefest they were effectively massive duplicate content sites.

In 2003, most of the country code TLD registries went dark as regards publishing new domain names.Google had serious problems accurately covering sites in ccTLD dominant markets. It is not that the people in Google weren't bright. It was just that when they came to detecting new ccTLD sites, they were stupidly locked into their infinite monkeys approach to link crawling. Around this time, Google effectively plundered local/country web directories like low-life scrapers. The problem was that in killing web directories, especially the small local ones, Google effectively created a major problem for itself in that it no longer got easy new links for its crawl.

Being dependent on a bunch of cluelessly flakey people like those in Google is not a business model. The web has always been about people exchanging information and the sheer ignorance of Google and its "Wikipedia with a shopping cart and SSL cert" approach to what makes, in Google's view, a good website was highlighted in the way that Google got absolutely gutted on Social Media ventures. Facebook, arguably the biggest web directory on the web gets the community aspect. Google's Buzz, Plus and others have all crashed and burned because they don't understand the human aspect. Maybe that's the most important part of building and growing a directory business - build a community and build for that community.

Regards...jmcc
 

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