State of the Nerd Herd: BOTW Advances Forward

State of the Nerd Herd
In mid November I had the opportunity to talk to Greg Hartnett, President of Best of the Web… having stumbled across an advertisement for an editing position only marginally related to my eventual role. He was hunting a “senior editor”. After some discussion he had me assembling a directory editor “dream team“… virtually all of whom exceed my own editing skills. It is a privilege to work among them. The original Herd members just passed the 6 month mark at BOTW.

Why BOTW Directory?
Before I came here, as a longtime web editor and voracious reader of SEO forums (yeah, somebody’s missing a great opportunity for a good 12 step program) I’d seen countless “Top Directories” lists. There are many many directories, but a select few always stand out, whether due to vast databases or for successfully representing a specialized niche. What constantly put BOTW on those favorites lists?

Answer 1: A Commitment to Quality
“Talk” about quality is a standard feature for virtually every organization. If it isn’t backed by tangible investment, it’s just chatter. In the case of BOTW the investment is not only real, it follows an unusual pattern. As the income increased the honchos didn’t treat it as a cash cow and just bank the profits… they’ve systematically reinvested to make BOTW a better resource.

Of course a standard complaint about pay-for-review directories is that they may be weak in areas where there are minimal paid submissions. Portions of the web will always include sites that are labors of love, not for-profit ventures. Those seldom pull out a Visa card and submit, they’ll only be in if somebody seeks them out. In order to have a broad range of offerings, BOTW has long used paid editors to flesh out these areas.

The recent addition of The Nerd Herd was a sign of this continued commitment. We don’t handle the paid sites, we build around them to make sure paid inclusions are in good enough company to show up on the radar. The Herd wasn’t a cheap investment… they’re well paid (especially given most of us learned this role as volunteers), but frankly they’re paid well because they are hand selected, a team of experienced folks who are very good at what they do.

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Answer 2: A Commitment to Both Users and Site Owners
To most directory owners it would seem an insanely high monthly overhead to tack on. After all, BOTW already has a good rep, why bother? Reason: A commitment to the directory’s various constituencies… including both end users and webmasters that depend on BOTW to help get their site in front of folks.

Method “A” : Adds / Taxonomy / Nav Aids
Since their arrival The Herd (which has quadrupled in number and is still growing) has actively worked to not only add sites… but to improve taxonomy and descriptions and provide additional contextual navigation. The point is to find good sites and to make them more findable.

Method “B” : DESCRIPTIONS
If a site is worthy of inclusion, it is worthy of a description that enables it to be found by search engines, not just via an on-site “drill-down”. That doesn’t mean it should be keyword stuffed… in the long run that does more harm than good, but it should be properly keyworded so it can be found. The value of a listing in any directory is diminished in value if the site doesn’t have a reasonable description. Adding without truly describing is a waste of effort.

But We’re a Directory, Not a Search Engine ( ? ! )
I got into directories in ’99. At the time the phrase “We’re a directory not a search engine” was common, and might have actually meant something before SEs were as reliable as they are today. Well, people still use both methods to search, but this isn’t 1999. Directories serve a dual role, and a very important role IF we do our job well. In the real world, search engines are an important vehicle, not an afterthought, and definitely not an adversary.

Moving Forward with Best of the Web
Today BOTW is a constantly improving information resource for both on-site users and for those using the search engines that farm it. The recently announced Blog Directory is another recent example of BOTWs continued commitment to providing new resources. Though BOTW is rapidly becoming the fastest growing directory on the web… whether it will become the largest is not our focus.

As the name implies… the point is to be “the best”.

Regards ~

Rob Jones
Proud Member of “The Nerd Herd”

NEXT WEEK:
A Rising Tide Floats All Boats… Why the directory biz is NOT a zero-sum game

It’s Good to be the King

Shandyking that is.

About a week ago we announced the newest addition to the BOTW executive team. We are psyched to get Adam on board, and we’re confident that he’ll help us bring BOTW to the next level.

With more than a handful of projects running simultaneously, there are a lot of business opportunities that don’t get the attention they deserve. For months now we’ve had multiple business development deals that are somewhere along the sales cycle, but to date have not yielded much fruit.

The addition of Adam to the BOTW team will enable us to maintain focus on operating and growing our core business without having to neglect the numerous business development opportunities that we pursue. Moreover, his entrepreneurial values and keen knowledge of the search industry will prove instrumental in the successful development and launch of future BOTW projects.

Adam is well recognized in the search industry as a forward thinker with great networking skills and a passion for sales. We’re certain that BOTW will be a stronger company for his joining, and we look forward to a long and prosperous working relationship.

Welcome Nerd Herd

We announced via press release yesterday that we have some new additions to the BOTW editorial team. In an effort to provide users with a better resource, we decided that we could use the help of some editors with experience in building quality directories. Enter the Nerd Herd.

We ran an ad a handful of months ago seeking a qualified editor. After finding our man, we formulated a plan to put together an editorial Dream Team. While there is still room for additional talent, the current Nerd Herd is in a league of their own. The few dozen editors that currently comprise the crew include pioneers in the web directory industry, with years of experience editing at directories such as Zeal and DMOZ.

Consistent with our mission, the crew will focus on beefing up both the web directory and blog directory with additional high quality resources. Additionally, their experience uniquely enables them to help shape the taxonomy of the directories in a manner that is intuitive and helpful to users. They will contribute on future projects, and their insight will enhance our efficiencies.

They’re a pretty impressive group of people to work with, and we’re glad to have ‘em on board. We look forward to an exciting future!

Interested parties should contact robjones[at]botw[dot]org to learn about joining the team.

Senior Level Editor(s) Needed

Best of the Web is looking for senior level editors to help in the oversight and growth of the Internet’s oldest directory.

Since 1994 BOTW.org has served as a destination spotlighting the best of what the web has to offer. Initially pioneering the web awards program, BOTW has transformed into a comprehensive directory, providing users with valuable resources for an expansive range of topics.

Currently, we need the assistance of an experienced editor to help oversee the work of lower level editors and contribute to the usefulness of the site by improving taxonomy and architecture.

This telecommuting position requires a self-motivated individual with years of experience. Successful candidates will have directory editing experience at Yahoo, DMOZ, MSN (or similar) or will have previously worked for a library (we love librarians!).

Please send a resume with all relevant experience and a letter explaining why you would be a great addition to the Best of the Web team.

Part-time or Full-time OK.

BOTW, Stirred not Shaken

We have long stressed the importance of surrounding yourself with the best people that you can find. We take great pride in the people that work for Best of the Web, and expect passion and a commitment to excellence from all. By attracting the best people we can continue to pursue initiatives fully confident that each project will move ahead with a focus on quality.

In keeping with this tradition, we are pleased to welcome Roger Montti as the newest member of the BOTW executive team. Roger has spent the better part of the last decade solidifying his spot as one of the top professionals in the search industry. Many readers may know Roger through his blog, Martinibuster, or through his work as a moderator at Webmasterworld. If you have been fortunate to hear Roger speak at a conference, or spend time with him talking shop, you have no doubt left the encounter wiser.

Roger will be acting as BOTW VP of Verticals. Our newest offering, BOTW Verticals (beta) will serve as an online resource for users to find information on various business solutions. Vendors will be able to interact with users, resulting in highly qualified leads. Roger’s experience in the search industry and lead generation should help to propel the initiative to a successful launch.

We are very happy to have Roger aboard, and welcome him to the Best of the Web team.

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