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Believe it or not, web directories may be more useful now than they were in their heyday. I know, I didn’t believe it either when I first looked into it.

But, it’s true! Now, you’re surely asking yourself “how can such an outmoded indexing system be remotely useful when we have Google, DuckDuckGo and … yeah even Bing?”. Well, before I can explain why they’re more useful now, we need to go back in time and closely study the internet of yore. Got your DeLorean fueled up and enough road to hit 88? 

When the Internet Was Young 

The world wide web made its debut as early as 1991, though as a practical, useful thing, most would say it shares a real birthday with Windows 95, the first consumer operating system with a focus shifting towards regular internet use. 

Only the internet wasn’t as useful as it wanted to be, initially. 

You see, before Google came around, search engines were practically useless. Websites had to spend a fortune in complex coding and registrations to make themselves visible on these search engines. There was no telling if you could succeed in ranking highly, either. 

With it still being so hard to find anything on the technology reputed to make it … easy to find things, something had to give, right? Well, this is where a lot of people who’re too young to remember heavily using the old internet assume Google stepped in with their innovations that’ve defined the 21st century so heavily. This isn’t true though. 

Web directories actually vetted a lot of concepts that Google would move on to perfect rather than invent, such as dynamic ranking of sites based on keywords, systems that could learn from user habits and interconnectivity between entities. 

As you might imagine, this was like the 8th wonder of the world when it came along. 

But of course, some jerks had to ruin it. They always do. SEO (you read that right, SEO is as old as the web) wasn’t regulated in any sense of the term. This left the door open for abusers to cram keywords into useless pages, climbing to the top of the ranks on the directories. So useless were these pages that it pretty much ruined web directory technology in entirety. 

You can imagine what happened next – most of the directories became cesspools of malicious code and nasty malware, many ultimately imploding in the end. Those that remained started to focus on specific types of sites (business, hobby, etc.) and the interconnectivity vanished. Suddenly, it was more or less right back to square one. 

This was mere months before Google invaded our planet and completely changed everything, so this relapse into the dark ages wasn’t long-lived, mercifully. 

So, this seemed like the end of the web directory technology as something at all relevant. It had been king for a little under half a decade, but at least it had a good run, right? 

Think again. Some of these have survived, initially due to some other internet-accessing cultures in Asia and Australia being less enthusiastic about adopting a whole new standard as a whole. This served as a way to keep the technology alive until in somewhat recent years, a rather clever new use for them came along. 

So, What’s it Good For? 

Contemporary SEO brought in by Google’s conquest of Earth prevented most of the abuse that ruined web directories (for the most part at least), but it also creates some insurmountable hurdles for new businesses and web presences. 
It can take years, even with brilliant SEO strategies, to climb from the bottom, and lots of startups can’t survive that long. This is where the new purpose of web directories comes in handy. 

The ones remaining to this day have actually cultivated a much better reputation among those who remain aware of the technology’s continuing presence. Google’s crawling and indexing algorithms are very aware of these sites, and the operators of them are equally aware of SEO and have used it to already establish a solid presence. 

So, it only makes sense to list with these sites, and ride their SEO coattails as it were, to acquire visibility until you’ve got enough momentum to speak for yourself. 
This isn’t a perfect, no-cost solution – web directories know their original purpose is absolutely deprecated, and why websites are still flocking to them. It’s not free. But, before you go thinking they’re capitalizing on small businesses with their sometimes “high” costs, remember that the other positive aspect of these directories is that actual humans survey and curate sites on them, rather than algorithms. These humans have to eat, and their services are underpriced if anything. 

Cool. How Do I Choose One? 

Choosing the right web directory is really all about rating it by its own SEO success. The various scores that go into that are well-understood, and there are handy tools like Small SEO Tool and the like that can make it easy to grade these sites at a decent speed. 

1 – Domain Authority 
Respect this authority! Domain Authority, operated by Moz, isn’t something you want a failing grade from. It factors in things like UX, design quality, content quality and traffic/backlink quality. In other words, a site’s DA score is a nutshell “does this site suck?” … it does if the score is below 50. 

2 – Citation Flow and Trust Flow 
A score of 50+ via DA is fantastic, but you’ll want to see how their CF and TF pan out as well. These are similar, but their specialization can point out flaws (or features) that the generality of DA isn’t designed to quantize. 
CF scores how much influence the site’s URL has (how widespread backlinking is). TF rates these backlinks for how authentic and reliable they are. Basically, these ratings determine if the site’s traffic is of sufficient quality, and if the traffic’s the real deal. 

3 – Alexa Ranking 
“Alexa, what’s an Alexa Ranking?” Alexa rankings are a broad meter of traffic coming in, pure and simple. Obviously, you want a web directory with a healthy amount of traffic coming in, or else what’s the point? Keep in mind though, Alexa rankings only tally those with software that makes them visible to the system. 

4 – Best Judgment 

Of course, at the end, no amount of logistics, statistics and rankings can completely stand in for good old human intuition. Take a look at the design, the personality, the overall quality of a list yourself. Do you like it? Then see if it meets the criteria above. If so, you’ve got a real winner on your hands! 

Any Suggestions? 

My, aren’t we lazy? Not really. You came for the information, you stayed for the suggestions, right? Some may believe in “always leave them wanting more”, but to heck with that! 

JasmineDirectory.com

Jasmine Directory is pretty much the quintessential modern web directory. Very traditional, it has a rigidly-structured categorization system and search infrastructure completely compatible with Google’s indexing and crawling. It’s a tad simplistic, but sometimes that’s a good thing. 
Pricing: $115.00 (permanent); $59.00 (annual) 

Founded in 2009, the directory has exceptionally high editorial standards. Its editors go as far as hand-picking sites that they deem to be most credible. The site separates the submitted listings from the editor-chosen ones with tiny EP marks. Having good content on your site might see the editors list your site among the hand-picked resources which will raise your credibility.

I’ve also seen a lot of links towards Wikipedia, Forbes, CBB, NYTimes, journals, magazines, which, let’s be honest, you can’t find in any directory. Apart from the old looking interface, I have nothing against this directory.

What sets this this directory apart is those awards get during the times when we loved that!

AliveDirectory.com: 

Alive represents one approach to modernizing the web directory concept, which means it’s very Google-optimized, but you don’t want to depend on users to find you through this site, as its interface is a bit of a mess. You might also find it confusing to get registered with them, and it has a few too many plans. Still, for the goal of Google visibility, it’s powerful. 

Pricing: $99.95 (annual featured); $69.95 (annual regular); $224.95 (permanent featured); $149.95 (permanent regular) 

AvivaDirectory.com

This is a special kind of web directory, engineered for modern Google-driven internet. Established in 2005, this one escapes the chains that still bind a lot of these to a past that’s borderline best forgotten. With a unique interface and mercifully simple plans, this is one that should be partnered with another choice from this list for a potent strategy. 
Pricing: $149.95 (permanent0; $49.95 (annual)

BOTW.org

This is one of the oldest and most trusted web directories still in use. It was launched in1994 and has continued to provide quality services to its customers. Like Aviva, BOTW, has expanded its business by specializing its listings in form of specific categories. In addition to their general web listings, they have country-specific categories, blog categories and even a locally-based category. 

In Closing 

It’s interesting to see relics from so long ago, on what many consider to be a completely different internet, now helping modern startups potentially thrive in this new ecosystem. Will this technology itself continue to evolve, becoming another part of the modern web experience? Perhaps … just perhaps.


Best Web Directories for 2018
Digital Mag

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