Our favourite resource, Wikipedia, defines a web directory as a directory on the World Wide Web. It specialises in linking to other websites and categorising those links. What a web directory is not, is a search engine, as it does not base its searches on key words. Instead it uses categories and subcategories. Sites that want to be included are usually limited to one or two categories only and final submission rests on the approval of directory editors who review all submissions to see that they meet the required standards.
Human edited directories are created and maintained by editors who add links based on the policies of that directory. SEOs target these directories, as they believe that links from reputable sources will improve their own rankings on search engines. Directories can prevent this by the use of redirects, nofollow attributes and other techniques. Many of the editors in human edited directories are volunteers and are experts in certain categories. Some of the drawbacks of human edited directories are the long delays in submission approval, rigid organisation structure and disputes among the volunteers. To help resolve these issues some volunteer edited directories have turned to wiki technology so that the broader community can participate in editing the directory. The possible downside of this of course is that it will allow in links of lower quality and the requirements to be met will be less objective.
Today it is a common search engine optimisation technique to submit websites to web directories. It assists in the vital capturing of back-links and makes the SEO task easier. As manual directory submission is not the most exciting and uplifting job in the world, it is passed along and outsourced by webmasters whenever possible.
A directory service, according to Wikipedia, is a software application or a set of applications, that stores and organises information about a computer network’s users and network resources, and that allows network administrators to manage users’ access to resources. Directory services act as an abstraction layer between users and shared resources.
Directory repositories hold all the information in the service: they are the databases, while the service provides the user with access to that information. In more technical terms, the service interface acts as a central authority that securely authenticates the system resources that manage the directory data – at least according to Wikipedia.
Directories put you in touch with the information that you want to find out. They can also provide you with related information in case what they gave you was not really what you were looking for. Directories are extremely useful if you are looking up something general like, “plumbers in Cape Town” and also if you are looking for something specific like, “Joe’s Plumbing Services”. They can also put businesses in touch with each other and enable then to link up with each other. Web directories are the most useful things since … well, paper directories.