Last night a post from the DMOZ blog titled R-E-S-P-E-C-T for DMOZ caught my eye. As I read through it, I felt for the old Open Directory Project (aka dmoz.org). Let me just quote the first line:
Everybody loves Google, everybody loves Wikipedia – so why doesn’t everybody love DMOZ?
Ouch! I mean, I kind of agree, but in some ways don’t. Let’s not forget, Yahoo was one of the first true web directories. Back in the day, everyone wanted to be included in Yahoo. DMOZ/ODP also was very sought after in the early days. People used web directories as search engines. As Google became more popular, people slowly stopped using web directories and opted for search engines. Then in 2004, Google dropped the directories tab from their default menu, which hurt the ODP more. In fact, back then, in my 2004 post, I showed how web directories have their purpose.
The DMOZ blog post goes through examples of how DMOZ does a better job at providing quality results over Google. Of course, anyone can show faults in Google or even DMOZ and claim victory in specific cases. But web directories do have their purposes.
So let’s give DMOZ some respect, shall we? Maybe not? As many webmasters and SEOs know, getting listed in the ODP directory can be challenging to say the least. In the old days, I personally was an editor and I can tell you, I stunk at the job. I rarely logged in to review submissions and then even more rarely approved any sites. A recent SEOmoz post named Want to Get Listed in DMOZ? Become an Editor shows how DMOZ listings can be somewhat biased and even corrupt. Of course, not all of the directory is managed this way, but the directory is huge and these things happen more often then not.
Just the other day, we received an email from a web directory who was upset they get no respect either. Philip, the owner of a directory sent us an email that starts off reading:
Whenever any SEO site talks about web directories it mentions Joe Ant, Massive Links, GoGuides, Rubberstamped, Aviva etc. For five years we’ve been building what we think will eventually be the world’s best directory at http://www.findouter.com and yet no one talks about us.
He asked us to compare a US Hospitals listing at http://www.findouter.com/NorthAmerica/USA/Health/Hospitals versus http://www.dmoz.org/Health/Medicine/Facilities/Hospitals/North_America/United_States/. Okay, so DMOZ has about 40% less listed in their directory under that category. I did not go through each listing to see if each URL is still active and returns a quality result.
I am not sure if the directories warrant more attention from us, but I would agree that on some level, they do deserve our respect. But I do wonder, would we have a search engine today if it wasn’t for the early web directories?