Some Thoughts on the Review Criteria for the 2nd Quarter of 2013

The assessment criteria used by Web Directory Reviews Org for the second quarter of 2013 will be greatly simplified and, I hope, an improvement from that which was used during the first quarter reviews.

A good web directory serves both the users of the directory and the website owners who hope to gain traffic, directly or indirectly, by having their website listed in the directory.

My original criteria sought to balance the two functions of a web directory, but it could have done so more effectively, I believe, if the focus had been on the value of a web directory to a directory user who might come looking for resources on the Internet.

What might a directory user look for in a web directory?

Aesthetics may not be the most important thing but poor aesthetics might prevent a user from looking any further, while an attractive directory might encourage people to give it a closer look.

If someone is looking for information or resources, a directory lacking sufficient content will be a disappointment, however pretty it may be. Clicking into subcategories only to find them empty, or finding no results on searches; these are things that will not be a satisfactory experience for the directory user.

The quality of the content found in a directory may also be important. While there is a degree of subjectivity in this, I think it is fair to say that useful content is better than useless content.

Assuming that the content exists in the directory, how difficult is it to find? A directory should be reasonably intuitive, which means that its categorization should make sense to the average user.

If a sensible and intuitive category structure exists, are sites listed where they are supposed to be? Website owners, looking for page rank, will often seek to have their websites listed in a higher level category than the site's content would indicate. Too often, directory operators, looking for money, will permit this if the webmaster is willing to pay a higher fee. This comes at the expense of the directory user, who is now unable to find the content that he was looking for in the most appropriate category.

To avoid having to click into sites only to find that they do not contain the information that the user is looking for, site titles should represent the actual title of the site, and descriptions should be descriptive. They should also avoid promotional language, misspellings and typographical errors. Sentences used in site descriptions should be grammatically correct.

Categories should be adequately described, so that the directory user can know what sort of sites might be expected to be found there. A directory that includes such things as related links or other forms of referrals to other categories of a like nature provide a service to the directory user.

Empty categories, bad links, and links that lead to websites other than the ones described are a waste of the user's time, and reflect poorly on a web directory.

Other content besides the categories, subcategories and links may also be important. When a user visits a web directory looking for resources on a particular topic or place, a web directory that actually has that information, whether in the form of an extended category description, or in a separate article, will be of value to the user.

These are the things that are important to a directory user. These are also the things that I am going to concentrate on during the second quarter of reviews.

It is my belief that a directory that meets the needs of the directory user will also meet the needs of the webmaster looking to promote his site. For all their faults, in order for a serach engine algorithm to meet the needs of its users, the search engine results pages should be appropriate for the search conducted. Thus, if a web directory meets the needs of its users, this will eventually be reflected in the SERPs.

A directory user doesn't care about page rank, but a well managed web directory will eventually attain page rank, traffic rank, or backlinks. These matters may be of some significance to webmasters and search engine optimizers but, with Google deprecating its own page rank, the ease in which Alexa traffic rank can be manipulated, and the dubious nature of some of the other ranking mechanisms, it can be difficult to know what to make of it. There is also the fact that a relatively new directory could be excellent in every way, yet be without page rank.

A directory user doesn't care about the cost of submissions.

In the second quarter of reviews, I am going to concentrate on assessing the degree in which a web directory meets the needs of the directory user, however fictitious that user may be.

Understanding that the people most interested in a web directory review will be webmasters and directory operators, my reviews will include information about the cost of submissions, page rank and other ranking mechanisms, and other comments that might seem pertinent relating to the operation of the web directory, but these matters won't enter into the numerical rating of the directory.
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