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Google vs web directories

Google’s long-standing policy of ‘Don’t be evil’ can easily be translated through the changes it makes to its algorithms. Some of these changes benefit the end-user; others benefit the providers of web services. Either way, there’s a good balance in-between.

A recent debate was sparked over the search giant’s policies concerning paid directories. Of course, this was a hot subject for webmasters who wondered whether it would still be profitable to invest in sending their websites to those places.

In a nutshell, Google decided to release some algorithms that interfered with most paid directories, severely sanctioning them. Now, this may seem as an unfair decision, but there are some things that people forget to take into account.

First of all – not all these directories who perceive a review fee are affected by the change in algorithms. The review fee is there to make sure that an editor will analyze the website submitted and ultimately take the decision if said website is to be allowed entry or not.

On the other side of the spectrum we have those directories which allow submission, based on a certain fee, to all willing to pay it. You can choose the category and other attributes for your link, resting assured that there’s little to no chance of it being rejected. These are the directories that don’t impose any standards, due to lack of editorial discretion.

Living in the information age does not mean we deal solely in information. The bottom line will always be profit. And accepting links from scrawny websites does, in fact, generate money. Rejecting them does not. By this logic, many directory administrators flooded the market with their products, resulting in a general quantity over quality policy.

So to what standards should a web directory hold itself? Well, first of all, it has to succeed in delivering its product in a professional manner. A good example of this is the DMOZ model, where editors do their jobs accordingly, making sure the end-users get what they want through upholding certain standards.

If you just go about adding websites, regardless of their quality, for the sole purpose of making money, you’ll end up with more of a backlink market than an online directory. Now if this is the case, you can be sure that Google will target and sanction you under its new algorithms.

The solution to avoid this is simple: directory administrators should only add websites that have relevant, quality-driven resources and overall interesting information to attract its users. Webmasters should also learn that it’s not the review fee payment that guarantees their admission, but the quality of their website – all at the sole discretion of the editor in charge.

Moreover, webmasters tend to target the main categories because of higher page ranks. It’s no secret that many ask me for refunds when I decide that their links will prove more relevant in other categories. However, this train of thought is counterproductive. Having a link posted on a quality directory is and should be treated as a privilege. It’s a win-win situation for both the online directory’s administrator and the webmaster if both of them strive for quality.

In conclusion, Google’s policies and changes in algorithms should provide a prosperous ground for veritable web directories in which webmasters can promote their work and make it all the more accessible to the end-user.


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