08. April 2012 · Comments Off on What’s The Deal With Web Directories · Categories: Your Hopes And Dreams

They were the next great thing.

People were spending thousands of dollars a month on promoting the business, general, and niche web directories.

Then suddenly Google, and probably other search engines, wielded their might and changed the entire scenario. For the directory owner who was primarily interested in selling link subscriptions, this would come as a death knell. But, in the long run, this is a good thing and the best directories will actually emerge stronger, some day. Let us try to understand this. On the one hand is the directory owner who thinks of his site as a web resource. This person will develop unique content, arrange for intuitive navigation, create customized and relevant category structure, offer multiple and well thought out payment options and plans. On the other hand is the fly by night owner who will take a basic script and make a little noise and get paid entries and then just let the site languish. In the heydays of web directories, one of the interesting by-products was that the biggest customers of free / featured / reciprocal / permanent / etc entries were actually your competitors. So, what you had to do was make a directory, make some noise on some popular webmaster forums, and then have all your competitors rush and buy listings. And once that gravy train reached its station, you start all over again. As in the case of any gold rush, many participants actually innocently start getting fooled by fool’s gold. They somehow start thinking that there is serious merit in buying a listing for four figures in a bid based directory site. If one acknowledges that the sole purpose of a directory entry is to get link juice out of it, then the party is clearly over. With major search engines targeting paid links, it is tough to gain much link benefit. Certainly not four figures worth. But I am unwilling to acknowledge that there is nothing other than link juice to be gained from a listing.

I know for a fact that many of my websites gain as much as 2-5% of their traffic from listings in directories. For tiny sites this might not amount to much. But when you are a serious webmaster, this makes all the difference. Then come to think of it, these sites that are sending me traffic account for less than 1% of the total number of similar sites that have listed me, one way or another. Voila! We just found El Dorado. The secret is that only the best of directories will survive. But that one will certainly survive. And is that not what we want? I think that the fact that such web resources are now forced to look at monetizing opportunities other than the sale of listings is also a positive sign. That means that some of them might actually see submissions as a way to enhance the editorial and content quality of their sites. Clearly once again a very positive sign for the industry as a whole, if I can call it an industry.

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