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Yahoo Directory Makes Changes & Further Directory Decline

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The Changes in the Yahoo Directory thread in our Search Engine Watch Forums notes that the Yahoo Directory home page has gained a new look and feel. In addition, sites are now sorted by popularity, as I'll explain more below.

I found it striking that instead of listing all sites in a particular category on one single page, categories with many listings (such as here) now have been broken up into multiple pages, with the option to "Next" to the other pages at the bottom. It's similar to how web search results pages operate. It's not a behavior I recall seeing before.

In my mind, it makes getting a Yahoo Directory listing even less compelling than in the past. Previously, there was some value in a listing because people might "detour" from a search results page into a category page and possibly see your listing. But now, for a popular category, there's a good chance you won't show up at all.

Of course, many people still feel paying Yahoo for a link is worthwhile because of link popularity benefits. So if you're in that camp, the changes probably won't be an issue.

Also interesting is that by default, now ALL sites are now listed in order of popularity. How's that determined? Yahoo has long listed some "Most Popular" sites in its directory but never disclosed how this was determined (such as a lack of revelations in this help page about it). I've always felt that clickthrough measurement, along with perhaps some link analysis, was part of the secret sauce.

The Google Directory has long sorted sites it gathers from the Open Directory by PageRank order. Perhaps part of the change is that sites in the Yahoo Directory are now sorted by Yahoo's own Web Rank order. I'm checking on this, along with the changes in general.

You still have to pay a $299 annual fee to submit to commercial categories at Yahoo.com (if you try to submit and only see an option to do so if you pay, that's a commercial category!).

However, folks in this WebmasterWorld thread, Yahoo Directory Changes Listing Method, discuss the directory changes they spotted back at the end of February as well as paid submission no longer being an option for Yahoo UK & Ireland, nor Yahoo Germany and apparently other European Yahoo sites. UK & Ireland now free submit in our SEW Forums also looks at this.

Overall, both Yahoo and Google have greatly decreased the visibility of their directories over the years. The latest Yahoo changes have the feel of a further backing away and perhaps a precursor to automated compilation in the future. For some related reading, see:

  • Google Loses Tabs In New Look: Explains how the Google Directory was demoted off the Google home page last March.
     
  • Yahoo Category Links Gone Away?: An illustrated guide from me last July, on how the Yahoo Directory has been downplayed over time, plus comments from others on the change.
     
  • On Web Directories: Covers ResearchBuzz's Tara Calishain decrying the loss of directories last November and Gary Price adding that even if Google and Yahoo are backing off, other directories are still out there.
     
  • ODP Founder Comments & Moving Past Directories: The founder of the Open Directory Project said in January that he thinks directories no longer make sense. I largely agree in this blog post about his comments, explaining why I think we moved to the current crawler-based results domination. But humans still do have a role to play, as I also explain.
     
  • AOL Search: Playing In the Big Leagues Now: Covers a redesign to AOL Search that happened in January. Part of that redesign was to drop directory category links from search results pages that were in place for ages. The directory used by AOL? The Open Directory, which AOL owns. Dropping the links was yet another sign of the decline for directories. Still want the ODP at AOL? It is there, via a link on the home page. That's all that I can find.
     
  • Is DMOZ really that great? from our forums has some recent, poignant comments from Open Directory editors saying not to blame them if the ODP has problems. They do the best they can with the few resources AOL gives them. It's long overdue that AOL either provide more support to the project or give it up to someone who will.

Finally, want to keep up with what's been added to the Yahoo Directory? New RSS feeds for various categories are available. Noticing changes at Yahoo yourself? Please contribute or comment in our thread.


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