Don’t Forget About Us, The Web Directories

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?

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Search Engines: Open Directory Project

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://www.planetc1.com/ chiropractic

    I was just looking at some web directories today (not dmoz). What surprised me is how little traffic they are receiving. I have to imagine the link value from some niche directories is still worth the effort of inclusion but I really was not expecting traffic numbers to be so low. Even so, I think they deserve respect.

  • http://www.inetours.com/ LWN

    Cry me a river DMOZ.

    I have been publishing one website since 2000. I submitted it early and it was accepted. After a couple of years I noticed that there were duplicate entries for iNeTours.com so contacted to let them know. They immediately removed both listings and I have been trying ever since to be re-listed, applying every 6 months or so with no luck.

    Seems to me they get the attention they deserve.

  • http://www.findouter.com findouter

    Thanks for mentioning findouter.com. What distinguishes us from other directories is that our listings are ranked according to importance. A look at the US hospitals link mentioned in the article should make that clear.

  • Eliza

    findouter, you should consider removing the nofollow tags from your directory links. Then maybe you’d get more attention and respect.

  • http://mformer.com/ Indiemark

    Yes, in the early days, online directories were the starting place for most search marketing efforts. Now with the exponential growth of online content and rising cost of paid search, positive results are becoming increasing more difficult to attain. Today’s niche-oriented, social media infused directories are welcomed, needed, and making a comeback.

  • http://www.totalbasementfinishing.com Basement Remodeler

    Similar to LWN, we had a listing for BasementSystems.com, then it was deleted when I added another domain. And now we can’t get any sites associated with Basement Systems in — we have 350 dealerships.

    I smell a competitor. DMOZ is irrelevant, and until this post, I had pretty much thought it was defunct anyway… isn’t it?

  • Tom J

    Something I found rather odd.

    The first day your post appeared, it showed up when I searched Google News for ‘dmoz’ (along with several other blogs quoting yours). The next day, and every day afterwards, all of those disappeared. Search Newz (which referenced your original post) appeared instead (and I selected ‘Past month’, so they shouldn’t have disappeared):
    http://news.google.com/news?um=1&ned=us&hl=en&q=dmoz

    Meanwhile, Yahoo News continues to show your post:
    http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=dmoz&ygmasrchbtn=web+search&fr=ush-news

    Now go back to Google News and click on ‘Blogs’. Those blogs quoting you (especially Search News which appears under various other names as well) were listed much higher than your post – and that’s when sorted by ‘Relevance’. Very odd, imo.

    Finally…I wonder what your opinion of web directories would be if they excluded ALL business and shopping links, and only included ‘information’ links. I’m guessing you wouldn’t know about them, as your focus is SEO which seems to mean business only. Probably like asking for your opinion of an encyclopedia. I’m not trying to be snarky, simply suggesting you have a much mroe narrow focus than most people who use search engines, let along directories.

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