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Are Web Directories Obsolete?

When was the last time that you used a web directory in order to find a site? In fact, when was the last time that you used a web directory for anything? The last time that I even looked at a directory was after Website Grader noted that this website did not appear in DMOZ or Yahoo's directory. Other than that, I probably haven't used a directory to find information in over a decade. My first instinct is to use Google, and just try different keywords until I find what I'm looking for.

This makes me wonder if web directories are virtually obsolete. The main reason for adding a site to a directory, is not so that people will find it in that directory, but because  search engines rank links from directories highly. This was one of the reasons why I added this website to the directories on and Ironically, despite listing this site as "popular," it's ranking is 1 out of 10, by two votes. Those two votes were probably cast by the two people who looked at the link when it was first created eight months ago. Back then, there was very little content on this website. This supports my hypothesis that almost no-one bothers to use a web directory these days.

Given that almost no one seems to use a web directory these days, why do search engines still rank them highly? And, is this ranking justified? The whole premise behind this ranking is the idea that humans are still better than computers at organizing information. That may well still be true, but a directory that no one uses is not worth much. Possibly, despite being having better organization of information, obtaining information from a directory is less convenient than using a search engine. Regardless, search engine technology has advanced far enough that it is now the preferred method of finding information on the internet.

It is possible that the search engines are actually leveraging the organizational structure of the directory. In this case the directories would still serve a purpose, since would be using them indirectly. However, it is also possible that there are enough other factors that search engines use (e.g., how many people click on search results), that the directories provide no additional useful ranking information. The exact workings of how Google or Yahoo rank pages are known only to the companies themselves, so I cannot provide a definite answer.

I'd be interested to hear what other people think. Do you still use web directories to find information? If not, are they obsolete?

Blog » Are Web Directories Obsolete?

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Blog » Are Web Directories Obsolete?