A web directory, also known as a link directory or a subject directory, is a directory concerned with web sources on the World Wide Web. The purpose of the web directory is to help users find the websites they seek by providing a layer of categories and sub-categories. Each web directory creates its own categories according to primary user groups needs. For example, Yahoo Web Directory is designed for general interests. Accordingly, its main category includes links needed for daily life such as shopping, entertainment, and travel. Another type of web directory such as an academic web directory would not ordinarily carry such links.
Web directories vary in coverage, size, and purpose. Some directories such as Yahoo! or Open Directory Project are large and offer comprehensive coverage covering all types of websites on the Internet. Some directories are designed for specific search areas such as academic resources or professional information sources. Some directories such as phone books focus on narrowly specific information; namely phone numbers and addresses. We can also find small directories on personal websites, which lists information relevant and according to a webmaster's interests.
A web directory is not a search engine and does not display lists of web pages based on keywords; instead, it lists web sites by category and subcategory. Web directories often allow site owners to directly submit their site for inclusion. Site editors then review submissions for fitness.
Web directories assist users to find the websites they need by going through layers of categories and subcategories. Because some websites are relevant to multiple subjects, websites are usually listed on all relevant categories.
Purposes and functions
Web directories or subject directories are created to assist users to find all relevant websites under certain categories or subcategories. Web directory guide users to a list of websites appropriating layers of categories and subcategories that users can then select to finally find a list of all relevant websites.
The result of search by the use of Search engine is determined by key words. Search engines, like computers, only respond to specific terminology that many users may not know. Because each subject directory has slightly different search mechanisms, users need to understand what the web directory does and does not allow among search techniques; such as phrase searching, Boolean logic, trancation, field searching.
Scope of listing
Most directories are very general in scope, and list websites across a wide range of categories, regions, and languages. But there are also some niche directories which focus on restricted regions, single languages, or specialist sectors. One type of niche directory with a large number of sites in existence, is the shopping directory that specializes in the listing of retail e-commerce sites.
Examples of well known, general, web directories are Yahoo! Directory and the Open Directory Project (ODP). ODP is significant due to its extensive categorization and large number of listings and its free availability for use by other directories and search engines.
However, a debate over the quality of directories and databases still continues, as search engines use ODP's content without real integration, and some experiment using clustering. There have been many attempts to make directory development easier, by using automated submission of related links by script, or any number of available PHP portals and programs. Recently, social software techniques have spawned new efforts of categorization, with Amazon.com adding tagging to their product pages.
Directories have various features in listing, often depending upon the price paid for inclusion:
- Free submission – no charge for the review and listing of the site
- Reciprocal link – a link back to the directory must be added somewhere on the submitted site in order to get listed in the directory
- Paid submission – a one-time or recurring fee is charged for reviewing/listing the submitted link
- No follow – there is a
rel="nofollow"attribute associated with the link, meaning search engines will give no weight to the link.
- Featured listing – the link is given a premium position in a category (or multiple categories) or other sections of the directory, such as the homepage
- Bid for position – where sites are ordered based on bids
- Affiliate links – where the directory earns commission for referred customers from the listed websites
A human-edited directory is created and maintained by editors who add links based on the policies particular to that directory.
Human-edited directories are often targeted by SEOs on the basis that links from reputable sources will improve rankings in major search engines. Some directories may prevent search engines from rating a displayed link by using redirects, nofollow attributes, or other techniques.
Some human-edited directories, including the Open Directory Project and the World Wide Web Virtual Library, are edited by volunteers, who are often experts in particular categories. These directories are sometimes criticized due to long delays in approving submissions, or for rigid organizational structures and disputes among volunteer editors.
In response to these criticisms, some volunteer-edited directories have adopted wiki technology, to allow broader community participation in editing the directory (at the risk of introducing lower-quality, less objective entries).
Another direction taken by some web directories is the paid for inclusion model. This method enables the directory to offer timely inclusion for submissions and generally fewer listings as a result of the paid model. They often offer additional listing options to further enhance listings, including features listings and additional links to inner pages of the listed web site. These options typically have an additional fee associated, but offer significant help and visibility to sites and/or their inside pages.
Today submission of websites to web directories is considered as a common SEO (search engine optimization) technique to get vital back-links for the submitted web site. One distinctive feature of 'directory submission' is that it can not be fully automated like search engine submissions. Manual directory submission is a tedious and time consuming job and is often outsourced by the webmasters.
Bid for Position directories
Bid for Position directories or also known as bidding web directories, are paid-for-inclusion web directories where the listings of websites in the directory are ordered according to their bid amount. They are special in that the more a person pays, the higher up the list of websites in the directory they go. With the higher listing, the website becomes more visible and increases the chances that visitors who browse the directory will click on the listing. There are PHP scripts (free and paid versions) for the management of bid for position directories include phpLinkBid (paid), Link Bid Script (free) and a modified link bid version for phpLD (phpLinkDirectory).
Sample web directories
There are numerous subject directories on the web. Only some samples are listed below.
The Yahoo! Directory is a web directory which rivals the Open Directory Project in size. The directory was Yahoo!'s first offering. When Yahoo! changed to crawler-based listings for its main results in October 2002, the human-edited directory's significance dropped, but is still being updated. The Yahoo! Directory offers two options for suggesting websites for possible listing: "Standard," which is free, and a paid submission process that offers expedited review. Payment is required when suggesting a commercial site.
Yahoo! provides both a search engine and a directory service, where the directory can be searched separately from the rest of their search engine results.
Open Directory Project
The Open Directory Project (ODP), also known as dmoz (from directory.mozilla.org, its original domain name), is a multilingual open content directory of World Wide Web links owned by Netscape that is constructed and maintained by a community of volunteer editors.
ODP uses a hierarchical ontology scheme for organizing site listings. Listings on a similar topic are grouped into categories, which can then include smaller categories.
Librarians' Internet Index
LII (Librarians' Internet Index) is a web directory maintained and indexed by public librarians. It lists over twenty thousands entries under thirteen main categories that are evaluated by public librarians. Each entry has a short description of the site as well as web address. Listed sites are for general interests. A popular example is the LII.
LII stated in the early 1990s by Carole Leta, a reference librarian and merged in 1994 to Berkeley Public Library and renamed Berkeley Public Library Index to the Internet. In 1997, the directory moved to UC Berkeley SunSITE and renamed Librarians' Index to the Internet.
- Search engine optimization
- Search engine
- Comparison among major web directories is found, for example, at UC Berkeley Library. It gives a comparative analysis of major web directories. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
- Paul Festa (December 27, 1999), Web search results still have human touch, CNET News.com. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
- How do I add my web site to the Yahoo! Directory?, Yahoo! website.
- Yahoo! Directory Submit, Yahoo! website. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
ReferencesISBN links support NWE through referral fees
- Hock, Randolph. The Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher. Medford, N.J.: CyberAge Books, 2004. ISBN 9780910965682
- NetLibrary, Inc. The Hutchinson Directory of Web Sites. Abingdon, Oxon: Helicon Pub, 2004. ISBN 9781417536252
- Schlein, Alan M., Peter J. Weber, and J.J. Newby. Find It Online: The Complete Guide to Online Research. Tempe, AZ: Facts on Demand Press, 2002. ISBN 9781889150291
- Sherman, Chris, and Gary Price. The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See. Medford, N.J.: CyberAge Books, 2001. ISBN 9780910965514
- Tomaiuolo, Nicholas G., and Barbara Quint. The Web Library: Building a World Class Personal Library with Free Web Resources. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, 2004. ISBN 9780910965675
All links retrieved May 3, 2023.
- Recommended Subject Directories, UC Berkeley - Teaching Library. Internet Workshops.
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