The Web Directory
The rapid expansion of the World Wide Web has increased the need for some kind of organization. One method that has become very popular in the attempt to control the massive amount of data available is the Web directory. The Web directory should not be mistaken for a “search engine”, which is another method of bringing the internet under control, and making access to its vast reservoir of data possible. The “search engine” uses key words to direct the searcher to specific pages on websites where the key words are located.
The Web directory, on the other hand, does not use keywords, but rather sorts web sites into preset categories and subcategories. The submissions to the Directory are often made by humans, and the fitness for inclusion into the directory is determined by human editors. Usually, a site will qualify for not more than two or three different categories. The directory actually is a method to link to other related sites.
Some of the Directories are very general in nature, and others are what are usually called “niche” directories where the subject matter is a bit more limited, and the human editors review the submitted sites for suitability and quality. There has been an ongoing debate over the value and quality of directories. Many of the more popular directories have relied on volunteer editors to process and categorize submissions, and this has often led to some delays in site inclusion.
In the early days of the web, people were concerned with the number of visits to their sites, called “hits”, for reasons mostly related to ego. It was nice to see that people were visiting your website. It did not take very long for this to change. The number of hits quickly became tied to revenue production, and the importance of making your website known and accessible became a matter of dollars and sense. In addition to aiding in the function of information sharing and research, Web directories are also valuable in revenue production. Directories not only review submissions for suitability, but also can rank them.
There has also been an ongoing conflict between Web directories and Search Engines that has centered on the fact that the directories tend to increase search engine ranking for their included sites. Certain technologies such as “rel=no follow” attributes have been developed to counter this tendency. Despite this, the Web directory remains extremely popular and useful. To many people it is the very human touch of the directory editors that has fueled their popularity. Regardless of how advanced the search engine technology becomes, the fact that a human has reviewed the website, and determined its value and suitability continues to draw users to the Web directory. It is fairly certain that Web directories will continue to be an increasingly popular method of navigating through and controlling the vast wealth of data available to us today.