A web directory is a listing of links to other categorized websites on the Internet. Typically, this link directory specializes in providing information on other websites by organizing and categorizing the links in a certain way. For example, a directory that specializes in serving the gay community might include categories such as “bisexual,” “lesbian,” “gay advocacy,” “gay dating” and “transgender” interest topics.

The web directory categorization is usually based upon the entire website’s content, rather than just one group of keywords. Websites are usually limited to include a certain number of appropriate subject categories. Web directories often have a system in which website owners may submit their sites for inclusion, after which human editors review and either approve or reject submissions, based upon their particular needs and rules.

Web Directories, Search Engines and RSS Directories

In contrast to a search engine, the web directory does not list its display of web pages based upon keywords. Website links are instead organized by categories and subcategories. The web directory entries are also found by humans, rather than by web crawlers and bots. RSS directories are organized in a similar fashion to web directories. The difference is that they typically contain groups of RSS feeds, rather than individual website links.

Well-Known Web Directories

Some of the more extensive and popular web directories might include the Open Directory Project and the Yahoo! Directory. Each featuers a comprehensive level of categorization with extensive and in-depth listings.

Types of Web Directories

Web directories serve various purposes across the World Wide Web. While some feature e-commerce websites and have paid-for inclusion, others may focus only or mostly upon information. Below are some of the types and purposes of web directories available:

Free Submission: No charge for website review and link listing.

Reciprocal link: A web directory link is required on the submitted website to be included in the directory.

Featured Listing: Sponsored listing link is provided a premium category position or multiple categories and directory sections.

Paid submission: Either an initial or recurring fee is charged for website review and link listing.

Bid for Position: Websites are categorized based upon paid bids.

Affiliate Links: Web directory can earn commissions for referral customers from listed websites.

Web Directory Scope

While many web directories are general, niche directories focus on a wide variety of in-depth subjects. For example, a shopping web directory might feature a specialized sector, such as discounted electronics in a retail e-commerce website.

Human-Edited Web Directories

Most web directories are edited by humans and reviewed regularly by editors who prune and trim them according to specific policies. Search engine optimization experts have surmised that this practice can improve major search engine rankings due to the quality of the content. Established human-edited web directories like the World Wide Web Virtual Library and Open Directory Project are edited by expert volunteers in specialized categories. These web directories have been criticized because of long approval delays and inflexible structures by the volunteer editors. The wiki technology has since been adopted by some of these human edited directories, to allow for a more broadened community type of editing participation for the directories. This has resulted in controversy about the wiki procedure inviting a lowered submission quality and diluted, less viable entries.

Bidding Directories

Some web directories are designed to be paid-for-inclusion listings so that they are organized according to their bid amount. Much like paid advertising, the more that is paid, the more prominence in the directory they will receive. The website will then be become more visible with the higher listing, increasing the possibility that web directory visitors may click on that listing.

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