Last Updated: 18th October 2013
Web directories, especially general Web directories, have been at risk lately due to Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. With some of them taking hits, which directories can you submit to that are still worth it?
To help you decide which directories offer the most value for your sites, we’re comparing some of the best general Web directories around. And we’re narrowing down the top ten of those starting directories based on how they’re faring after the algorithm updates and how strong of an outlook they have due to the quality of their directories and related content.
The Starting General Web Directories
To compare the current status of general Web directories, we had to come up with a starting list for the rankings. To do that, we reviewed which ones tended to come up in searches and third party lists. We picked 23 of the directories we came across most often for the rankings.
You can find those rankings in the chart below along with further details on the top ten general Web directories. In the meantime, here was our initial group of directories, in alphabetical order:
- 24 / 7 Web Directory
- Alive Directory *
- Ally Directory
- Authority Directory
- Aviva Directory
- Best of the Web
- Family Friendly Sites
- Index King
- Jasmine Directory
- Pegasus Directory
- Uncover the Net (SearchInQ)
- V7N Directory
- Web Sorter
- Web World Index
- Yahoo Directory
* Note that we didn’t include DirJournal.com in this Web directory comparison. That’s because we wanted to keep it as objective as possible. And there was no way we could be 100% objective about things like a content evaluation when we’re responsible for the content that appears on this site. In addition, we want to disclose that Alive Directory is owned by the same owner as DirJournal.com.
How the Web Directory Scores Were Calculated
The factors below were all considered in comparing Web directories, with each being given a point value. Here’s how we determined those point values for each site, based on information available in March 2013.
This is the current toolbar PageRank for each site. The PR is equal to the number of points given, from 0 – 10.
Page Authority (PA)
Page Authority is an SEOmoz metric where a specific URL or page on a website is given a ranking in the range of 1 – 100. Points were assigned based on the following values:
- PA of 1-10 = 1 pt
- PA of 11-20 = 2 pts
- PA of 21-30 = 3 pts
- PA of 31-40 = 4 pts
- PA of 41-50 = 5 pts
- PA of 51-60 = 6 pts
- PA of 61-70 = 7 pts
- PA of 71-80 = 8 pts
- PA of 81-90 = 9 pts
- PA of 91-100 = 10 pts
Domain Authority (DA)
Domain Authority is an SEOmoz metric where the root domain of a website is given a ranking in the range of 1 – 100. Points were assigned based on the following values:
- DA of 1-10 = 1 pt
- DA of 11-20 = 2 pts
- DA of 21-30 = 3 pts
- DA of 31-40 = 4 pts
- DA of 41-50 = 5 pts
- DA of 51-60 = 6 pts
- DA of 61-70 = 7 pts
- DA of 71-80 = 8 pts
- DA of 81-90 = 9 pts
- DA of 91-100 = 10 pts
Alexa Rank (AR)
This is based on the current Alexa Traffic Rank of each site according to data available at Alexa.com. Points were awarded based on the following rank ranges, up to a maximum of 10 points.
- AR in the top 100 = 10 pts
- AR from 100-1000 = 9 pts
- AR from 1000 – 5000 = 8 pts
- AR from 5000 – 10,000 = 7 pts
- AR from 10,000 – 25,000 = 6 pts
- AR from 25,000 – 50,000 = 5 pts
- AR from 50,000 – 75,000 = 4 pts
- AR from 75,000 – 100,000 = 3 pts
- AR from 100,000 – 150,000 = 2 pts
- AR from 150,000 – 200,000 = 1 pt
- An AR over 200,000 received no points.
This is the most subjective score factored into this ranking. We ranked the content quality for each directory with the help of a professional writer experienced in the Web directory industry. Scores varied from 1 – 10.
The first element we looked at was the content in the directory listings themselves. Directories lost points for things like typos in category titles and blindly accepting site descriptions from submissions without exercising any editorial standards. They potentially gained points with value-added content like blogs (which attract visitors who actually want to use the directory rather than solely focusing on attracting submissions). However, if they attempted to add this kind of content and the writing quality was poor, their score suffered for it.
User Experience / Design
This was another subjective score ranging from 1 – 10. While a directory could gain a point or two with an aesthetically pleasing design, usability was the key factor. Cluttered directories lost points. Clean directories tended to rank higher. We also factored in site load times. If we had to wait around for category pages or content areas to load, the directory got dinged.
We took note of backlink counts for each of the 23 starting general Web directories based on data available through Ahrefs.com. We then assigned a point value from 1 – 10 to each directory based on the following backlink ranges.
- BL < 10k = 1 pt
- BL 10k – 25k = 2 pts
- BL 25k – 50k = 3 pts
- BL 50k – 100k = 4 pts
- BL 100k – 250k = 5 pts
- BL 250k – 500k = 6 pts
- BL 500k – 1m = 7 pts
- BL 1m – 10m = 8 pts
- BL 10m – 20m = 9 pts
- BL 20m+ = 10 pts
Facebook Likes and Shares
We assigned 1-5 points for a combined total of Facebook Likes and shares, as reported by OpenSiteExplorer.org, based on the following ranges.
- No FB Likes / Shares = 0 pts
- 1 – 25 FB Likes / Shares = 1 pt
- 25 – 50 FB Likes / Shares = 2 pts
- 50 – 100 FB Likes / Shares = 3 pts
- 100 – 250 FB Likes / Shares = 4 pts
- 250+ FB Likes / Shares = 5 pts
Tweets, also determined by OpenSiteExplorer.org, were assigned 1-5 points based on the following ranges.
- No tweets = 0 pts
- 1 – 50 tweets = 1 pt
- 50 – 100 tweets = 2 pts
- 100 – 250 tweets = 3 pts
- 250 – 500 tweets = 4 pts
- 500+ tweets = 5 pts
We also pulled data from OpenSiteExplorer.org on the number of Google +1s each site received, and they were assigned points based on these ranges.
- No +1s = 0 pts
- 1 – 100 +1s = 1 pt
- 100 – 250 +1s = 2 pts
- 250 – 500 +1s = 3 pts
- 500 – 1000 +1s = 4 pts
- 1000+ +1s = 5 pts
Directories were awarded 1-10 pts based on how often we came across empty categories on each site. Shallow content was a major target of the recent Google updates, and there might not be a better example of that than empty Web directory category pages. These add no value, get users lost deeper within your site, and do little more than artificially inflate the supposed size of a directory. It’s a problem we’re working to fix here at DirJournal.com too.
We tested at least 20 pages per directory in recent weeks, and we based our scores on the trends we saw. If we came across no empty category pages, the directory scored the full 10 points. Scores were lowered the more we stumbled onto empty pages.
Affiliate programs reward site supporters for spreading the word. And getting people talking about your directory is increasingly important if you want to remain both visible and relevant. So we assigned a flat 5 points for any directory with a clear affiliate program available, and 0 for directories without one (or at least without one clearly advertised on the site).
Resources / Add-Ons
We assigned 1-10 points to each directory based on additional resources or add-ons they had available. This could include things like webmaster tools, forums, blogs, newsletters, or even article directories. Points were earned both based on the quantity of resources and the quality of those resources.
We assigned 1-10 points to each site based on their advertised pricing structure and how clear it was from a first-time visitor’s perspective. It did not matter if the directory was free or premium in nature. What mattered was how confusing the submission and / or payment process was. If things were simple and clear, the full 10 points were awarded. If things weren’t immediately clear, we docked points based on the severity.
This is the number of years each directory has been around. We based this on information available on the site whenever possible. If the launch date wasn’t clear on a Web directory itself, we reviewed domain records and third party announcements of the launch. One point was awarded for each year the directory has been in existence.
23 General Web Directories Compared
Based on the factors explained above, here is a chart showing the points assigned to each of the 23 starting general Web directories.
|Best of The Web||7||7||1||9||8||2||3||4||10||5||0||6||19||8||9||98|
|Family Friendly Sites||6||3||3||8||8||1||1||1||10||0||3||8||17||8||7||84|
|Web World Index||5||6||4||6||3||1||1||0||6||0||3||6||12||7||7||67|
|24/7 Web Directory||4||6||2||7||3||1||0||0||10||0||0||10||5||5||6||59|
The Top Ten General Web Directories
Based on the data above, we narrowed down a list of the top ten general Web directories from this comparison. Below you can find more detailed information about how we arrived at their scores and why they outranked the competition.
Note: If directories in the top ten (or directories competing for a top ten placement) had the same score, we took a second look at some of the ranking factors. Specifically, we looked at scores that resulted from ranges (like Alexa Rank ranges and backlink count ranges). The directories that tended to fall higher in those ranges were ranked before others in that range which earned the same number of points. If there was a mix between who ranked higher for different metrics, we had to make a more subjective judgement call, but you can consider them pretty much equal.
1. Yahoo! Directory
It was clear from the start that the Yahoo! directory would likely come out on top. It had a few key factors going for it with this kind of ranking system. For example, it’s one of the oldest directories, so it received a good number of points for its age alone.
There’s another major reason the Yahoo! directory was practically unbeatable. It’s tied to a huge content network. Yahoo! gets an important thing right here — they make their directory a part of a larger resource rather than relying on link listings alone for rankings and visitor attention. The sheer volume of their associated content and resources would be difficult for any other Web directory owner to compete with, even though all of Yahoo’s content isn’t top notch.
Given some of their lower quality content mill style offerings, we knocked their content score down a couple of points. But we did feel the quantity of overall resources tied to the directory warranted a full 10 point score in that category.
Here are some additional background numbers so you can see why the Yahoo! directory received the points it did:
- Alexa Rank = 4 (which gave it 10 points)
- Backlinks = 2.4M (which gave it 8 points)
- Facebook Likes and Shares = 122 (which gave it 4 points)
- Tweets = 204 (which gave it 3 points)
- Google +1s = 51 (which gave it 1 point )
We dinged them several points on their pricing structure because it isn’t entirely clear from a first-time visitor’s perspective. For example, there’s a drastic difference between a $299 price point and a free standard listing. They don’t give you even a vague idea of how long you would wait for a free listing to be considered. And we feel the “commercial listings” rule for payment requirements should be better explained before someone takes the time to suggest a site.
We know DMOZ tends to be the subject of controversy. But based on the factors we looked at here, they do come in pretty high in the rankings. That’s largely due to things like the directory’s age, solid organization (as in few to no empty sections), simple quick-loading interface, and huge number of backlinks.
That said, DMOZ did take a hit in several areas. For example, they only received 5 points for their overall content (again a result of the site’s simplicity). They received no points for value-added resources that are increasingly necessary. And they received only 3 points for their pricing structure which, for a free directory, is made unnecessarily complicated.
Here are some of the specific numbers you might be wondering about.
- Alexa Rank = 1105 (which gave it 8 points)
- Backlinks = 59M (which gave it 10 points)
- Facebook Likes and Shares = 854 (which gave it 5 points)
- Tweets = 2346 (which gave it 5 points)
- Google +1s = 222 (which gave it 2 points)
Even thought DMOZ and BOTW (below) both scored 98 points, DMOZ came out on top with specific metrics like a better Alexa Rank, more backlinks, and more social media engagement.
3. Best of the Web
As another well-known and “well-aged” general directory, it’s no surprise that Best of the Web made the top ten either. They even easily made the top five despite being tied for the lowest content score (a measly one point).
Why did BOTW receive such a low content score? There just isn’t much there. Content-wise they’d probably benefit from some well-written category descriptions and more robust site descriptions for their listings. Then again they seem to be doing just fine with their shallow, or nearly-nonexistent, content — for now.
They made up for some of those lost points by having a great clean site that was easy to use and fast-loading. And they do a great job (from what we saw at least) of keeping empty categories out of the directory.
Here are some of the other specifics you might be interested in:
- Alexa Rank = 9966 (which gave it 7 points)
- Backlinks = 2.3M (which gave it 8 points)
- Facebook Likes and Shares = 41 (which gave it 2 points)
- Tweets = 206 (which gave it 3 points)
- Google +1s = 522 (which gave it 4 points)
4. HotvsNot Directory
The HotvsNot Web directory did well with both its content and design / usability scores, earning 7 points for each. While we did come across some issues with the content (things like poor formatting with inconsistent paragraph breaks and some minor typos), we gave them a lot of credit for having thorough category descriptions. They didn’t solely rely on link descriptions for content on the site.
One of their lowest rankings came as a result of poor price structure clarity. When a visitor goes to the “add site” page there is no mention about whether listings are free or paid. They require you to start the site submission process. When you do, you’re taken to a second page in the submission process. You’re asked for the site details. Only after you fill in all of this information do you get to see the price for listing your site with them. That’s extremely poor marketing with no transparency, so they lost 8 points for the practice.
HotvsNot.com earned additional points based on the following specific stats:
- Alexa Rank = 12,789 (which gave it 6 points)
- Backlinks = 11M (which gave it 9 points)
- Facebook Likes and Shares = 59 (which gave it 3 point)
- Tweets = 72 (which gave it 1 point)
- Google +1s = 7 (which gave it 1 point)
5. Family Friendly Sites
This directory made a name for itself by focusing on family-friendly submissions only. And while other directories on this list have similar policies, this is the only one to use it as a smart branding strategy.
It’s one of the oldest general Web directories in our comparison here, and that helped it make the top 5. So did its large number of backlinks, fast-loading and simple design, lack of empty category pages littering the site, and a clear pricing strategy for customers.
Here’s where Family Friendly Sites picked up some of its other points.
- Alexa Rank = 93,071 (which gave it 3 points)
- Backlinks = 1.1m (which gave it 8 points)
- Facebook Likes and Shares = 3 (which gave it 1 point)
- Tweets = 1 (which gave it 1 point)
- Google +1s = 1 (which gave it 1 point)
6. V7N Directory
The V7N directory has been around awhile, but it’s far from one of the oldest on this list. But what it lacks in age, it makes up for with its overall quality. The directory is a resource itself rather than the main site focus (a key, we believe, to the future of most Web directories). The site also features things like a webmaster forum, SEO blog, and a marketplace. That resulted in it earning the full 10 points for resources and add-ons.
The V7N blog actually led for the 7 points for the site’s content score. That kind of value-added content can go a long way to keeping interest in the directory’s site as a whole. The clear pricing structure and lack of empty categories throughout the directory led to another 20 points combined.
Here are some of the other specifics:
- Alexa Rank = 4126 (which gave it 8 points)
- Backlinks = 4k (which gave it 1 point)
- Facebook Likes and Shares = 5 (which gave it 1 point)
- Tweets = 113 (which gave it 3 points)
- Google +1s = 2 (which gave it 1 point)
7. Aviva Directory
While Aviva did better than some other directories here with strong backlink, empty category, and age-related scores, they did suffer on their content score. They received a 4. That was a shame because they did go above and beyond many competing directories with value-added articles. And those articles seemed to be of decent quality. But they were severely outdated. If they had continued to provide similar content in the more recent past, they might have been able to move up a spot or two on this list.
The design and overall user experience was okay, but the dark color scheme is definitely a bit harder on the eyes than competing directories, especially given that we’re talking about text-heavy sites.
Aviva Directory picked up some additional points through the following:
- Alexa Rank = 50,343 (which gave it 5 points)
- Backlinks = 908k (which gave it 7 points)
- Facebook Likes and Shares = 2 (which gave it 1 point)
- Tweets = 15 (which gave it 1 point)
- Google +1s = 3 (which gave it 1 point)
GoGuides had a strong showing with its design and user experience score due to its extremely clean and simple interface plus fast loading times. It also earned a good number of points for additional resources such as its SpamTracker. They got points for adding news to the site, but didn’t get the full 10 points due to its aggregated nature rather than offering unique content.
The directory only received a mediocre content score of 6 points given the fact that there is limited content beyond the submitted site descriptions and the aggregated news mentioned before. And they lost a few points for empty categories found while browsing the site, although we found fewer empty categories there than on several of the other directories we looked at.
Here are some further details about the GoGuides.org directory.
- Alexa Rank = 61,926 (which gave it 4 points)
- Backlinks = 19k (which gave it 2 points)
- Facebook Likes and Shares = 10 (which gave it 1 point)
- Tweets = 11 (which gave it 1 point)
- Google +1s = 173 (which gave it 2 point)
9. Ally Directory
The Ally Directory picked up some significant points due to its large number of backlinks and it’s value-added resources available for visitors. For example, the directory’s owners have released a variety of themes and templates in the past. That said, it would be a plus if they released some more up-to-date resources or resumed updating the webmaster blog.
One of the biggest problems with this directory other than a lack of updates is the fact that we found quite a few empty categories. Sure, it makes a directory look bigger. But it’s frustrating as a user to browse into a site only to stare at a nearly-blank page.
Here is some more information about Ally Directory’s points.
- Alexa Rank = 183,614 (which gave it 1 point)
- Backlinks = 4.2m (which gave it 8 points)
- Facebook Likes and Shares = 0 (which gave it 0 points)
- Tweets = 487 (which gave it 4 points)
- Google +1s = 1 (which gave it 1 point)
The Ally Directory didn’t receive any points for Facebook Likes and shares. We ranked Ally slightly higher due to the significantly higher number of reported backlinks coupled with the directory’s better social engagement.
10. Pegasus Directory
The Pegasus Directory made the list in large part due to its Page Authority, Domain Authority, clear pricing / listing policies, and its age. Those combined led to 34 points — nearly half of the site’s total points.
On the downside, it received a low content score and mediocre score for design and usability. It had one of the most generally dated-looking designs of the directories we compared. The low content score came mostly from sloppy errors such as the misspelling of a category name on their homepage (“proffesions” instead of “professions”). Fortunately, that’s an easy thing for them to fix. The content score was also low due to the general lack of content on the site. Good category descriptions and more editorial control over descriptions of submitted sites would go a long way towards improving things in that area.
Here’s where some of the Pegasus Directory’s other points came from.
- Alexa Rank = 16,425 (which gave it 6 points)
- Backlinks = 356k (which gave it 6 points)
- Facebook Likes and Shares = 12 (which gave it 1 point)
- Tweets = 17 (which gave it 1 point)
- Google +1s = 0 (which gave it 0 points)
Where Would DirJournal.com Rank?
Just for fun, we also decided to do an evaluation of our own general Web directory here at the Directory Journal. You can view the point structure we came up with in the chart below, followed by further details on how we came up with those numbers.
Let’s do a column-by-column run-down of how we came up with a score for DirJournal.com (which would have put us in the top ten at number 4 if we were in the official rankings).
- PageRank – We have a current toolbar PageRank of 5, so we scored 5 points for that.
- Page Authority – We have a Page Authority of 76 for our homepage, which gave us 8 points.
- Domain Authority – We have a Domain Authority of 71, which gave us 8 points.
- Alexa Rank – Our Alexa Rank is currently 21,041, which put us in the 6 point range.
- Content Score – We ranked ourselves on the higher end of the content score due to the sheer volume of unique content we offer to attract visitors (the people who come here to find your sites in the directory). We run a number of niche blogs on topics such as health, entertainment, business, and the search and social media industries. We also now have a directory industry blog (the one you’re currently reading). And we have a collection of how-to guides. We have one of the most content-rich general Web directories currently around, and we hire a wide range of professional writers and industry experts to create much of that content. That said, we do know our content has weaknesses in some areas, so we dinged ourselves a few points for that. But we promise we’re working on that — cleaning up some older sub-par posts and updating old posts that are no longer relevant for example.
- User Experience / Design Score – We’ve been working on improving our design here at DirJournal.com. And while we have a lot of information to show you on our homepage (being somewhat cluttered is what lost us a few points), we try to keep fresh and clean directory pages. We chose a ranking relative to other directories with similar benefits and drawbacks.
- Backlinks – We have 554,000 backlinks based on data from Ahrefs.com, which puts us in the 7 point category.
- Social Media – Based on data from OpenSiteExplorer.org we had 140 tweets, 531 Facebook Likes and shares, and 503 +1s. That gave us 3 points for tweets, 5 points for Facebook interactions, and 4 points for Google +1s.
- Empty Categories – We sliced 5 points off for empty categories because we know we still have plenty of them in the directory (mostly deep categories such as smaller regional ones). Again, it’s something we’re working to address. But it’s still a problem now, and that’s reflected in the score.
- Affiliate Program – We do have an affiliate program, so we got the 5 points for that.
- Resources / Add-ons – We listed the full 10 points for resources and add-ons again due to sheer volume. In addition to having multiple blogs we also offer a collection of webmaster tools, a newsletter, and a free e-book for subscribers.
- Price Structure – We think our prices are pretty clearly laid out on the submission page, and by keeping it to four options we can avoid confusion. But we do have a landing page that goes over the benefits of site submission which comes before you get to the link submission form and pricing info. Since the pricing info isn’t on that lead-in page, we knocked off a couple of points for the extra click required.
- Age – DirJournal launched in 2007, meaning we’re 6 years old and were awarded 6 points for that (as one of the younger directories listed here).
Do you have another favorite general Web directory that we didn’t look at in this particular comparison? Based on the factors laid out here, how would it measure up? How would you rank DirJournal.com? Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
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Just visit our Directory Journal Submission Page and use discount code Surprise30.