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The Evolution of Directories from the Dinosaur Age of Yahoo!

Things have changed

The phenomena of online directories began quite accidentally in a campus trailer in early 1994. Jerry Yang and David Filo, then engineering students at Stanford University, began compiling a list of their favorite sites on the Internet. As these lists grew bigger and bigger, Yang and Filo, broke them up into categories. When these categories became unmanageable, they were further broken up into subcategories. Thus, the foundation of all web directories was laid. Yahoo! had arrived.

Although Yahoo! has moved on to greater things, the original Yahoo! Directory still exists. Today, online directories have undergone several changes in order to accommodate more than just simple lists of websites. The evolution of technology has been accompanied by the evolution of online directories as well.

As mentioned earlier, the first online directories were all general directories that listed all kinds of websites categorized according to similar themes. These directories continue to exist today, becoming more and more expansive as they include newer categories and subcategories in order to be able to list a greater variety of websites. General web directories led to the creation of niche directories – the opposite of general directories – that list only those websites that deal with, or are in some way related to, the specific nature or theme of the directory (example: a shopping directory would only list e-commerce related websites and nothing else). The types of niche directories available online will only continue to grow with the ever increasing number of new products and services that make their mark in the everyday-lives of people.

Along with niche directories, another type of directory began to evolve, that offered users a combination of the features of both niche and general directories. These directories were the regional directories. They are niche in the sense that they pertain to a specific area – which could be as large as a country or as small as a town – while at the same time, they could also be called ‘general directories’ since they list a wide range of common categories and sub-categories in much the same way as general directories do. Thus for example, if someone were searching for a real estate agent in the U.K., he would ideally go to a U. K. based directory and then search for ‘agents’ under the ‘Real Estate’ or ‘Business’ category.

The advent of blogs in recent years has led to the evolution of blog directories. These directories list blogs instead of websites and are an increasingly popular resource for bloggers and blog owners alike. Blog directories could – like web directories – be general, niche or regional in nature.

The concept of web directories has diversified greatly in the last 10 years or so. While web directories started off as simple lists of websites, today they have come to include much more than just websites. Article directories for example, are those directories that list articles by topic or category. They mainly exist for the purpose of sharing content that would benefit webmasters. Similarly, Podcast directories are those that list audio or video files that can be downloaded free of cost onto mobile devices or PCs. Directories have in this way, evolved even in purpose, offering benefits not just to webmasters, but also to the general public.

The question is, can directories evolve any further?

How much further will directories evolve?

Share your views by posting your comments.



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Comments

6 Responses to “The Evolution of Directories from the Dinosaur Age of Yahoo!”

  1. paul rice on March 23rd, 2008 5:09 pm

    what a great read l am new to all this and enjoyed it

  2. SEO Updates on April 4th, 2008 10:26 am

    Good question,”The question is, can directories evolve any further?”
    What we can see sooner rather that later will be the evolution into reverse engineed directories, directories that can maximize visitors usuage..I will explain this in my blog post soon..

  3. Lance Ruch on May 1st, 2008 4:55 pm

    Nice information. It is very informational.
    Any other type of directory that you discover?

  4. Online Shopping Directory on July 24th, 2008 1:59 pm

    Good post …. but I have a better approach up my sleeve …. I can share if anyone is interested ?

  5. RK Roy on September 9th, 2008 4:53 pm

    nice one really!!

  6. Lynn Bishop on October 6th, 2008 6:49 pm

    That was interesting to know how directories started, I have to say I didn’t know yahoo was the first I would have guessed it was dmoz. You are quite right that directories have evovled, the niche ones that are now turning into large businesses. Just last year we rebuilt a hand coded directory gay travel directory, and put it onto a database so the owner could handle the large number of new submissions he was receiving. He was thrilled that all the pagenames in the database where the same as the original html website so the PR he had built up stayed intact, and actually has doubled on many pages since we made the site SEO friendly as well.

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