What is a Web Directory?

Getty Images

What is a Web directory? Although the terms search engine and subject directory are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.

How A Web Directory Works

A Web directory organizes Web sites by subject, and is usually maintained by humans instead of software. The searcher looks at sites organized in a series of categories and menus. These collections of links are usually much smaller than search engines' databases, since the sites are looked at by human eyes instead of by spiders.

There are two ways for sites to be included in a Web directory's listings; either the site owner can submit the site by hand, or the directory's editor(s) will eventually come across that site.

How to Search a Web Directory

  1. The searcher types a query into the search function or toolbar, however, sometimes a more focused way to find what you're looking for is to simply browse the list of possible categories and drill down from there.

How To Find Them

  • Yahoo: Yahoo has one of the best (and oldest) Web directories on the Web, along with its own search engine listings and many other search services.
  • Look Smart is hard to classify as just a Web directory; especially with its recent foray into vertical search channels.
  • The Open Directory has been around since 1999, and is a human-edited directory. Also known as DMOZ (Directory Mozilla), the Open Directory Project purports to be the “largest on the Web”, constructed and maintained by a “vast, global community of volunteer editors.”