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  #1  
Old 12-15-2009, 06:00 AM
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A Web Directory Association?

When a title jumps out and catches my attention from your latest blog post listed here at the V7N, I have a habit of clicking on it to find out more. This time I came across an interesting topic over at Aviva discussing if developing a Directory Association would make sense, along with possible pro and cons.

Quote:
There has been some discussion lately about setting up a Directory Association. This would be an organization for directory owners similar to a Bar Association for attorneys – although on a much smaller scale. http://www.avivadirectory.com/downloadblog/?p=500
After reading the above referenced article along with the associated comments, I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter. Would it work? Would it be possible for an association to agree on a set of quality standards? What do you feel has kept this from becoming a reality?
 
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Old 12-15-2009, 07:17 AM
swedal swedal is offline
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I looked into starting one. In fact I was the one who spoke with Jeff about it prior to that blog post going up.

The problem is that there is always interest until the rubber hits the road and that is when people back off. In order for something like that to work there would need to be highly credible and major players in the directory industry involved. When I contacted several of them the response lacked the needed interest.

Any organization would need to have strict and high standards for entry. Most directories made today would not be acceptable quality wise and there would thus be a lot of resentment and jealousy created. There was interest from Jeff when I contacted him but additional major players in the directory game would need to be involved - a directory the likes of botw, skaffe etc displaying a association logo would help to get it done but there is no interest.

Another problem with it is it would need to be non profit for a decent amount of time at least initially to gain support. The kind of people that need to be involved to make such a project work tend not to donate their time and assets like that.

In the end I decided to stop pursuing it because I did not have the time it would take to devote to a project like that when most of the major players that needed to be involved to make it work had only luke warm interest in it.

Make no mistake that the odds would be clearly stacked against it because as the majority of directories applying were rejected due to quality there would be a huge outcry on forums such as this against the association. The owners of Quality and I do mean Quality directories that got involved would need to be highly committed.
 
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:32 AM
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A good idea but it may be difficult to get going. I could see it as useful as a common voice for lobbying . This is common with businesses like real estate and banking. Budgets are in the tens of millions. Google would not like to see negative headlines in the mainstream press. I think they would be much harder on directories if they weren't afraid of anti-trust issues.

Some online businesses, like Gambling, have loose associations. These are usually run through privately owned forums. Even these have trouble keeping momentum even though the profit potential in that industry is much higher than the directory industry. People tend to be motivated by the short-term and have trouble getting excited about long-term issues.

As swedal said, it is a good idea, even on a small scale but it would take a lot of low paid effort to get it going and keep it going. The average directory owner would probably not see enough benefit to join, especially if they have to pay dues. An "association approved" banner would help people enlist.

Having reviewed directories for 5 years, I know that it would be difficult on getting consensus on what a "quality" directory is. My own definition has evolved over time and I am constantly re-evaluating a wide-range and sometimes conflicting critera.
 
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Old 12-15-2009, 09:09 AM
stoner3221 stoner3221 is offline
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Most directory operators today know they are riding a pile of crap down a bobsled run that will be crashing very soon. They want nothing to do with anything related to quality.
 
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Old 12-19-2009, 11:32 PM
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I posted on Jeff's blog in response to that Directory Association, and I concur predominantly with the thoughts here. I've been researching and evaluating directories for just on 10 years now, and I believe it would be extremely difficult to set up an association.

The people that have tried in the past have had a vested interest in starting it. They've asked for a fee in return for membership, or they've wanted to have advertising on the official site, which in turn leads to bias.

The only way it would work is if old-heads got together, many of them with differing views and were able to nut out a general concensus on the minimum requirements that a particular directory needs to meet in order to be accepted by the association. That in itself, would be a mammoth task - as stated above, getting those old-heads together would be nigh impossible, and without them on board, any subsequent association just wouldn't be respected or relevant.

At the community level the volume of bickering an in-fighting is so prevalent that convincing anyone to sign up would also be a difficult task. It would be a great way to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to demonstrate clearly what constitutes a real directory - and to simply discard the rest as link farms masquerading as directories.

However, I believe that if it was possible to set one up without bias, and with that relevancy and respect, that it would have been done before now.

I'd love to be proven wrong, and I'd throw my hat in the ring to get involved and help build a real association, but I don't think it will ever happen...
 
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Old 12-20-2009, 12:52 AM
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For the benefit of our directory owners and editors, do you have a page that you can refer us to that would list what qualities YOU feel determine the quality of a directory? If not, can you list here what factors you would use to determine this? Additionally, are there any specific things you would recommend to directory owners who are sincerely looking to improve the quality of their directory?
 
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Old 12-20-2009, 12:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cricket View Post
For the benefit of our directory owners and editors, do you have a page that you can refer us to that would list what qualities YOU feel determine the quality of a directory? If not, can you list here what factors you would use to determine this? Additionally, are there any specific things you would recommend to directory owners who are sincerely looking to improve the quality of their directory?
The above question is directed at anyone highly experienced with directories. I would like to hear multiple opinions.
 
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Old 12-20-2009, 07:53 AM
swedal swedal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cricket View Post
For the benefit of our directory owners and editors, do you have a page that you can refer us to that would list what qualities YOU feel determine the quality of a directory? If not, can you list here what factors you would use to determine this? Additionally, are there any specific things you would recommend to directory owners who are sincerely looking to improve the quality of their directory?
I wrote this article on traits of a quality directory a few years ago and much of it still applies.
 
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Old 12-20-2009, 08:32 AM
stoner3221 stoner3221 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cricket View Post
For the benefit of our directory owners and editors, do you have a page that you can refer us to that would list what qualities YOU feel determine the quality of a directory? If not, can you list here what factors you would use to determine this? Additionally, are there any specific things you would recommend to directory owners who are sincerely looking to improve the quality of their directory?
I personally donít use a written set of guidelines and instructions I could refer somebody to but some of the older directories in operation today were started by former go.com directory editors, myself included and the go.com guidelines for directory operation and editing were carried over to their directories. Most all professional editors I know originally learned editing and directory operation in the early days of the ODP.
 
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Old 12-21-2009, 05:21 AM
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IMO the identifiable characteristics of a quality directory are the following:

- Unique content
- Actively created content
- Strong editing policy
- Definitive design and brand
- Established age
- Indexable/crawlable
- Evolving
- Intuitive navigation and taxonomy

Many of these points overlap with one another, in that you cannot have one without the other.

The characteristics can elude a lot of directory owners because the software that they use out-of-the-box doesn't teach them how to be a quality directory owner, or how to edit effectively. All it does is shows them how to put up a website with a duplicated category structure, and how to approve/reject submissions. The content creation and the editing of submissions is the main part of running a directory. Tie it in with all of the other elements and that directory becomes a quality resource.

There's probably quite a few good directory owners who started out with the best intentions, had a medicore resource, and have learnt over a number of years how to improve their resource into something of value. As someone said in another post - we learn from our mistakes - and hopefully people can see that having a bad/mediocre directory isn't the end of the road for them. If they want help to improve their resource they just need to put their hand up and show that they want to put in the investment to make it worthwhile.

To expand on these points a little further.

Unique content involves editing. It means taking a submission and altering itís description, titles, etc to produce a unique listing, based on the editing guidelines of the particular directory. I also believe that unique content is created through meta-data and title tags when details pages for listings are created. Meta keywords might be officially worthless in Google, but the meta description is important because if created correctly it will be used as the snippet in the Google SERPs description for a listing.

Actively creating content means continuing to build content over time. Many directory owners sit back and expect submissions to come to them. Real directories are not built like that. Content has to be sought and created. A directory is only as good as the content it offers, so if categories are empty those categories are useless.

A strong editing policy refers to lots of things. Producing content that is both active and unique, as well as having the balls to reject submissions that do not meet the guidelines. Directories, in particular, have this silly habit of letting other directory owners and directory lists to submit over-promotional descriptions as-is and listing loads of junky directories, so that category is over bloated, whilst the rest of their directory is rather empty. Strong editors will not compromise their integrity for any website, no matter how many favours are owed or how much money is offered. Quality directories will pass this test every time.

A definitive design/brand demonstrates that someone is passionate about their resource. They are involved in actively promoting it, which in turn leads to traffic and establishing a good reputation within the community. What do I mean? Take a look at Skaffe. Itís a well established directory that has a positive reputation. Theyíve got a Xmas theme up which tells me instantly that someone cares about that directory. It also tells me that the directory is active/alive and not just sitting there. Someoneís changing things on that directory, and so if I submit to them, Iím going to get reviewed. Thatís how branding and designing a directory leads to quality.

Established age comes with time and building the reputation. Directories that have been around for 5 years or more give the impression that they are sticking around forever. Brands and reputations arenít built overnight they take time, and with time also comes trust. A brand that has reputation also provides trust, and thatís a directory that you want to submit your website to in order to take advantage of that longevity.

Being indexable/crawlable is a given. Many directories use poor link structure or do not thoroughly check their mod_rewrite rules when rewriting URLs. As a result their submit page, which isnít rewritten, is still accessible and so they still receive submissions. Meanwhile, their categories are inaccessible to humans and bots because they simply havenít bothered to test their rewrite. If you think this doesnít happen often think again, it is one of the most common errors Iíve seen on directories and just about everyone misses it.

Evolving refers to keeping up with the times, and the changing landscape of the internet, the SEO community and the directory industry. Some directories are still using out-dated software and old techniques from 10 years ago. They need to improve their interfaces and face facts that people probably arenít going to email a submission through these days. Also directories need to offer a lot more than just a free link. I think this is probably best summed up by Swedalís blog post talking about ďadditional featuresĒ. Things like blogs/articles/videos and other resources that become part of the directory, as well as multiple listing options and different display formats are examples of evolving.

Taxonomy is generally copied, either from DMOZ or another well known directory or from a dump on a directory script. This is one of the commonly weak aspects of many directories. Categorisation should attempt to be unique, and also intuitive. Too many directory owners have lean categorization, so they will have something like a Travel category that is full of restaurants, accommodation, air fare sites, hire cars, travel guides. All this does is dilute relevancy and make the category a mish mash of different sites.

Recently, Aviva directory has begun restructuring their categories, and I believe that this change/evolution benefits them because a lot of directories copied their structure and now they are changing it to move away once again from those directories, to establish themselves further as a unique resource.

The navigation should also be simple and easy to use.

For submitters: Where to submit, where to read guidelines and policies, contact pages and getting to the category that is most suitable to place a listing should all be easy to find.

For end users: a search option as well as easily navigable categories will provide ease-of-use in finding what they are looking for.

There are probably more, and I could probably explain them a lot better given time. Most people should understand these points though. They all involve either money, work or time (or all 3). Those things scare a lot of directory owners so they avoid them. A directory that has no investment of these things will not ever be considered a quality directory.
 
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Old 12-21-2009, 12:13 PM
freelistfool freelistfool is offline
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I agree that a directory association might help in identifying quality directories and also help weed out the crap. The problem is getting people involved. Most successful directory owners don't want to take the time to get an association started...because their directories are already respected (by SEO experts, Google, people in their niche, etc.). Creating an association that will list and promote quality directories will help the lesser known quality directories and hurt the well known ones so you'll have a hard time getting the well known directory owners to participate. IMHO, I think there is too much of a conflict of interest to get and association started and keep it going.

As a result, I think that determining quality should be taken up by one or a group of directory list owners. The problem with this is that it'll take a lot of time that won't be rewarded. So it probably won't happen either.

I don't mean to douse anyone's hopes, I'm just looking at it from a pragmatic point of view.
 
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Old 12-21-2009, 02:03 PM
swedal swedal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freelistfool View Post
As a result, I think that determining quality should be taken up by one or a group of directory list owners. The problem with this is that it'll take a lot of time that won't be rewarded. So it probably won't happen either.
I feel compelled to point out the obvious. You mention directory list owners should do this???? The same directory lists that are partly responsible for promoting and encouraging the use of the garbage directories that are a huge part of the problem?

There is maybe one list currently available that has any semblance of quality control on the directories they list. Most are tied to a sub domain of a directory in order to get easy links through people mentioning it in forums and also to boost traffic to their site through the list and inflate their traffic counts in hopes that their site looks better to actual submitters who pay for the review.

IMO - A directory list owner having any kind of association with an association for quality directories would probably mean the associations death as it would undermine its credibility.

Last edited by swedal; 12-21-2009 at 02:10 PM.
 
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Old 12-21-2009, 05:45 PM
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As much as I wouldn't want to say it, I have to; It's wishful thinking, but the amount of time, energy & funding to put together such a resource is light years away. =/

I am glad you at least brought it up though cricket.
 
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Old 12-22-2009, 10:17 AM
freelistfool freelistfool is offline
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I feel compelled to point out the obvious. You mention directory list owners should do this???? The same directory lists that are partly responsible for promoting and encouraging the use of the garbage directories that are a huge part of the problem?
This is my point. There are a lot of directory lists out there with thousands of directories listed in them. The reason for this is that it takes a lot of time to clean up a list. Time that isn't rewarded monetarily. As a result, the list owners tend to approve submissions to their list but quickly lose track of them. The same way directory owners don't clean up their own directories...so they eventually fill up with broken links and spam.

Back to my point. If there was a business model that rewards directory list owners for tracking only "quality" directories then someone would have done it by now. It's been tried and we all know it's failed.

As a result, list owners are doing only what is worth their time (keeping a small list, or allowing user ratings, or cleaning up sections of the list when they are working it themselves on a SEO project, or trying to provide searching and sorting so webmasters can filter out most of the crap, or having a "report bad links" process...you get the idea). Every one of these management styles has it's benefits, but they all have the same problem. None of them actually contain a list of only quality directories. So the uninformed web master will just pound through the list, or rely on PR, or Alexa rank, or throw darts at the list to pick directories for submission...and the crap directories continue to get enough submissions to keep them in business.

But I have hope. Sooner or later someone will find a way to make the effort worth the cost (directory owners via an association in the hope of being labeled "quality" or list owners in the hope of profit). When that happens we'll finally get a list of quality directories.
 
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