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.
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”.
Proud Member of “The Nerd Herd”
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