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There is more to internet searching than Google, and I'm not talking Bing or Yahoo here. I'm talking web directories.
Web directories are listings of websites, organised according to types of content — like Yellow Pages, but for online purposes. There are hundreds of directories out there, local and international, general and niche; with listings of thousands of websites for you to search and find what you're looking for.
Why not just use a search engine? Well, because the top websites listed in a search engine are not necessarily the best ones but only those which have won over its ranking system.
For people eager to dig through the usual clutter of commercialised stuff, directories like Directory Journal step in.
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Directory Journal is an online database of websites organised per categories, but with an added edge of useful articles. They also offer free webmaster tools and have also started a local directory at local.dirjournal.com.
Here, a vast number of websites has been arranged into categories like 'computers', 'games', 'health care', 'tourism' and many others; and then further into subcategories like 'graphics' or 'operating systems' for the category of computers, and 'lodging' or 'travel agents' for the category of 'travel and tourism', etc.
In their own words, their directory is a "trusted source for the best websites on the internet verified by experts".
Well, everyone says that about themselves. But looking at some of its online counterparts, and various directory reviews, this directory comes across as a fairly solid, well-reputed and known name in the game.
It has been around since 2007, and is growing since. Thousands of websites are now part of its database, organised under broader categories, followed by smaller sub-categories. For example:
The site may not be a looker, but then, web directories barely ever are. The good thing is, navigation is easy for the most part, and the categories are intuitively arranged. Inside every category and sub-category, there are featured listings up top, with an alphabetically arranged list of websites below it.
One thing where the creators are bang on with their claims are that these are quality links. Whether you're looking for a 'camp and caravan' deal in the UK, or just a good information resource on quantum mechanics, the sites you'll find here will offer value in some way or the other. Sure, it's no substitute for a Google search, but then, directories aren't supposed to substitute it; they merely complement it with quality links which may not have been able to make it to the top.
That said, Directory Journal does lack in some areas.
Many of the sub-categories are empty. I had a particularly hard time looking for links on hotels and lodging under the 'Travel and Tourism' category for most countries. Often, there would just be a single, generic featured link, and not really related to traveling.
While on course my test drive, I stumbled upon a listing of Poynter Institute inside 'Arts and Humanities' (category) and 'Illustration' (sub-category). This placement is a bit incongruous, because Poynter.org is a journalism resource (and a very good one, at that), not a graphic designing or art website. It should be there inside 'News and Media' (category) and 'Journalism' (sub-category), where I didn't find it.
However, this may be because it was added back in 2007 and edits made afterward missed it.
On the other hand, what I really liked about Dirjournal.com is the additional blog posts and guides found on the site. They have a healthy bunch of different articles in six different journals — business, internet marketing, health, entertainment, Internet, shopping — along with how-to posts and tools for webmasters. An Smarty, Kristi Hines, Michael Gray and Lisa Barone are big names when it comes to search and social media, and all of them have been writing for this Directory Journal.
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I had a look at some of these write-ups and I can tell you, they're insightful. Granted, the posts in the entertainment and health sections are pretty much just general things from around the web. But in business and marketing areas, and especially in online businesses, these guys are strong.
Try 'How to Write a White Paper', '150+ Best Android Apps of 2014' or 'Best Directories post Panda and Penguin' — short posts with good depth of information. The article 'The Best Quotes of All Time' has 1.9 million shares!
Don't expect these to be exhaustive treatments of the subject, they're instead meant to share personal insight from inside the industry, which is what really matters to most users and webmasters when judging the what's what and who's who of the online world.
One thing which confused me was that clicking on 'Articles' in the site header took me to their 'Search and Social Blog'. The other blogs are only listed down below on the Home page:
But the 'Search and Social Blog' has been given a link through the 'Articles' tab, and if you go there and hover over 'Internet Marketing', you'll find a 'blogs' link in the drop-down menu as well.
All in all, though, I found Directory Journal a more than decent repository of information. If they can streamline their blog content further and fix some things in the taxonomy of listings, they'll start looking a lot better.
In any case, if you're the owner of a new Pakistani startup or business, getting a couple of deep links listed on this well-reputed forum will be good for traffic. For regular links, the fee is $59.95 per year or a one-time payment of $159.95. A featured link is $99.95 per year or a one-time payment of $249.95.
But the great news is, they're offering coupons with 50 per cent discounts to Pakistani businesses, till November 30, 2014.
Just enter the coupon code Pakistan50 when you're placing the order. Payment options are PayPal and credit cards, but if you would rather pay manually, send an email to email@example.com with 'Manual Payment' as the subject.