I-Search Search Satisfaction Survey Responses

Below are individual responses from the I-Search search satisfaction survey. Please see the separate article for more information about that survey and the questions asked.

What I dislike most about directories as a webmaster is...

no clear reasons when you are not accepted

Difficulty reaching them. If you have a straightforward listing fine, but if you need the slightest special attention, it's hopeless

The a**hole factor among the various directories. Editors are supposed to be objective. I've dealt with editors at Yahoo, ODP, and Go Guides who are unqualified and unprofessional What I find particularly disturbing about Yahoo surfers is that 2 colleagues indicate that a Yahoo surfer never visited or revisited their site. And the sites were rejected at Business Express. I reviewed the log files. They were right. Yahoo should not be so arrogant as to give poor customer service

Available categories do not match site's subject and you are forced to select a less than adequate one

Being listed in an obscure category which is not easy found, even for highly relevant searches. Also, being listed in only one category when my site would be a valuable find in others

The inexperience of most editors to accurately compose a description and title

Never knowing if, or when my submission will be accepted. I have had situations were I submit 2 very similar sites (on different subjects). For no apparent reason one will be accepted and one won't. With normal Yahoo submissions you never know if it has been reviewed (and rejected) or not yet reviewed The increasing trend towards fees for even being considered - whether you get listed or not. Particularly with major "must have" directories, this is tantamount to bribery and corruption. Therefore, I "refuse to have" even in the "must have" directories.

Inconsistency between editors. Individual editors seem to have a wide range of criteria for accepting/rejecting/editing sites

The lack of a standard submissions system that is fair to everyone including small startups who don't have a large staff or budget for hiring specialists No editor should be allowed to rule on whether submitted sites are qualified in any category in which they have a potential conflict (i.e. categories in which they have their own personal sites listed)

The inane description applied to my web site and the incorrect title

tedious submission process of finding just the right directory to put pages.

With our science education pages, there are many paths one could take to find our material

Inability to now list manufactured items companies have authorization to sell. For example, a client of mine cannot list that they sell Christopher Radko items in Yahoo's description, as they are not Radko themselves. This keeps my client from showing up in Yahoo.com's directory. It makes no mention of any of the actual brand names they have authorization to sell. The description was within reason, did not spam, and was within Yahoo's guidelines at the time. Appeals were ignored. We paid $199!

Directories like LookSmart that only allow a paid submission. Some sites I submit are for very small companies with very tight budgets and they still would like the chance at getting listed. They're not non-profit, so the "free submission" on LookSmart doesn't apply. Yahoo allows free submissions, but good luck getting in unless you pad their pockets

The "human editors" take the objectivity out of the listing process. Webmasters & site owners have little or no say regarding where and how their sites should be listed. Listings are rarely current and very limited

length of time to get accepted and when you do get accepted, it takes time for the keywords to kick in

I've got it down pretty well so that most of my descriptions remain intact with most Directories. But LookSmart just plain BITES! No matter what you submit, they will change it and usually remove key words. I am finding more and more it's not worth the $199 to submit to the because of this

almost impossible to get listed in any form anymore

Length of time it takes to be listed (can be several months).

not being able to get re-listed under relevant categories at ODP, after being dropped for no apparent reason (according to editor) and the fact that most of the (for my site) relevant categories do not have editors

Lazy editors that pass judgment without more than a quick scan, that and unethical editors

Getting an editor to actually add a site or make changes to a listing. Also, when new categories are added at a later to date that better apply to sites that already exist in the directory. These sites are not re-categorized they don't spider my pages and since it's impossible to cover all the subjects on my pages in a few words, many people are missing out on the information that they are searching for

Editors get the site info wrong, or make spelling mistakes etc on your submissions; the editorial process is highly selective and relies on chance; the time lag while you wait to get your site looked at

With most of them its so difficult to suggest a subcategory if an apt one does not exist. This leads to most people submitting to subcategories close to what they want which may be unsuitable or also 100 of sites in one subcategory instead 10-15 in each further subcategory

Listing determined in alphabetical order and not necessarily relevancy

Listing is determined by whim of Editor - often found to be a competitor

Description frequently modified or watered down

Often key phrases omitted

Sites containing 1,000's of key phases over 100's of pages backed up with quality/ rich content are denied comprehensive coverage

Difficulty and uncertainty about getting listed

the directory structure can be convoluted and it's often difficult to decide which is the most appropriate category

The lack of personal addresses for correspondence. The lack of replies when you do ask a question.

Their split between geographical retail & product retail. It really doesn't make sense to have the same company listed everywhere twice (or more) Wasn't available to Canadian businesses initially. Haven't they heard of the North American Free Trade Agreement? I heard is available now to Canadian businesses (on your newsletter)

I tried too [to be an editor”. And was turned down as an editor of the the "oldies" popular music section - in spite of the fact I've been selling the product for 30 years and have several books in print on the subject!

The trend towards paid only placements

It [staying an active editor” takes up a lot of time and effort, and I really don't see a big payoff, except that in order to promote sites, you have to know what's going on inside

What I dislike most about directories for search is...

Listings should not be alphabetical. Just because a site's title begins with the letter "A" does not make it more relevant than a site whose title begins with the letter "F". Directories need to include popularity as part of their search algorithms. Additionally, many sites belong in multiple categories, although I recognize the potential for spam

Not being able to find relevant information about obscure topics. For example, trying to find information about a particular software error is usually possible via a normal search engine but impossible in directories

While results may well be highly relevant, they simultaneously lack comprehensiveness.

searches too often end up in 'regional' categories - regional categories seem to be a "catch-all" solution to the inherent weakness of trying to reduce "everything under the sun" into a relatively short list (of categories)

Favoritism among editors listing the same site under multiple urls and page extensions

Who has time to drill down through directories? I don't and won't. Most of our clients' prospective customers will not either. If the words are not in the descriptions and titles, the site does not show up. I've also been amazed at how many listings do not show up first that have keyword proximity. For example: a search on "dining rewards". Unless I put it in "quotes", then descriptions delivered do not necessarily have these words in proximation to one another

The pages listed are rarely updated, the information is stale, and the descriptions are poor

results give me too many sub-categories then more sub-cats

I don't personally search with Directories except maybe if I was looking for something local. I would prefer to know that the sample of sites that might turn up in my search is a big sample. You just don't get that with a directory

Results are often irrelevant

too many irrelevant listings

The listings are usually not current. Too many sites that aren't updated or don't exist anymore

The listings in each subcategory are mostly alphabetical thus relevant sites with titles starting with second half alphabets are a pain to see. ( I get around this problem by Searching once from top down and once from bottom up)

Categories are often too wide I rarely use Directories

Stale links/link does not match description

Ranking does not favour sites that start with letters further down the alphabet.

What I dislike most about spider-based search engines as a webmaster is...

slow refresh times in general

Need to check and resubmit frequently

The declining importance of the META tags. There should be an "search engine only" area in the code (maybe what the META tags USED to be) where keywords and text can be listed. This would be especially useful for sites with a lot of images, flash or that has to have age verification or a sign-in as the first page

Highly relevant pages do not get good results because they are dynamic or simple. Also - relevant non-root pages get placed below less relevant root pages. Also - index time is too long

Trying to determine what criteria a search engine is using for its rankings

Conflicting rules between the engines. Designing the "perfect page" may get you a high placement on some engines, yet banned on others. If you play the game totally clean, you get listed everywhere, but at the cost of position.

Again it doesn't matter what the method is. Get a standardized system so you don't have to read a book about every single one. Their incessant need to be unique makes them less usable, not more effective

lack of clear guidelines as to what is "allowed" and what is "spam" by each search engine - why do we have to go to this list to find out what some SE's think about cloaking, for example? If it is something that is grounds for permanently banning web sites, then why not have a page clearly stating so? And then ENFORCE it -- including all the Fortune 500 companies using cloaking! the lead time for sites to get listed

lack of separation/distinction of good content from commercial enterprises. For example, our lobster site sometime receives top rankings, as it has great content for anyone wanting to learn about lobster history, lobstering, lobster biology, etc. But some search engines place commercial content over ours

I've not used cloaking in the past, but want to use it now to protect my source code, and to help dynamically designed graphic intensive sites gain relevant listings without major redesign. I do not want to use it to mislead the search engines. Thus, in the meantime, I like the new paid submissions as long as they work for all involved, including my client who has paid the extra fee. Index refreshing will probably be alleviated by paid submissions, or so I hope. I want to get reviewed faster if I have paid that fee. I do not want to get edited, as I do not mislead nor misrepresent my client's products in any way

Too much spam and Cloaking Both of these issues are equally important to me. I'm sick of telling my clients "we won't do that... it's unethical" and they come back to me saying, "well, look at our competitors, they all did it"

dead links...especially on AltaVista. Also, hate dead links

This is definitely my biggest dislike. If/when the engines add new pages quickly, everything works like a charm. Having to wait 6 months to never to get into Excite, is just ridiculous! There's no excuse for that other than simply not caring about the quality of their links

Few have been actively crawling for some time

When a search engine sees a page as spam when it really isn't. This is a big problem with Altavista right now

Keyword Density. In a joke site do I say "This is a joke before each joke?"

The difficulty on knowing when they spider my site

Some SE's take months to list. Too unresponsive

For various reasons sites with little merit sometimes obtain premier positions

Blatant instances of spam often remain undetected

Inconsistent selection by spider of pages it decides to include in the index, even though it spiders the entire site

Huge delays in getting sites into database

Some just take a section of my pages - the wrong section!

Not enough re-indexing - A large number of now dead or under construction sites still hold top places

or was in the past [index refreshing problem”, seems to be better now

What I dislike most about spider-based search engines for search is...

Too many false hits

Spam is the problem because allowing spam and cloaking produces the least relevant results

Information is often stale - indexes dont get refreshed often enough

Some search engines are so terribly full of dead links!!!!

Their incessant need to be unique makes them less usable, not more effective inserting directory listings for top returns - if I want human edited returns, I'll go to a human edited directory!

Out of date content / missing pages

it never pulls up what you are searching for instead it uses the space for things totally not related to my search!

Having to weed through all the irrelevant commercial sites trying to find good content

I'm very happy with Altavista, Google and Excite.com for their technology as both a researcher and a marketer. If the rest of the search engine companies could be more in line with these three companies and their results, we'd have a lot to cheer about

As a webmaster, I am guilty until proven innocent. Search engines & directories now seem to operate under the assumption that everyone is trying to spam or spoof the system. I also dislike the fact that it is nearly impossible to contact someone at a given engine or directory to answer questions

Sometimes in an effort to reduce spam, I find some engines have terrible results. Excite is like that now. HotBot has been like that for awhile, but not quite so bad. Although I haven't used Excite lately to search (because they're so out of date), the last I checked many of their results were totally irrelevant

I like 'em for search

It's that too much spam and out-of-date entries clog up the results. This might in part be due to cloaking, I'm not sure

Spider based search engines have no way of distinguishing between meanings of the same word. Example -> ball - object with which children play and party where adults play. etc

Occasionally see premium listing with "No Title" followed by description which contains no valuable information except html - poor web design

Frequently encounter out-of-date pages or dead links

Links to non-existent pages/links that do not match description spidered

Google is consistently much better than the rest

I guess it would be algorithm changes from one day to the next. For instance, if I forget to bookmark a site and go back in a few days to find a site, even on the same exact search words, I sometimes have problems finding the site. What is that due to? I can only think it's changing algorithms

My biggest gripe as a webmaster trying to get listed is...

slow refresh rate and changing algorithm

the difficulty in maintaining a top listing in the major search engines

It's become a big game of cat and mouse with everyone using tricks to jockey themselves upward in the listings. Takes many, many, many hours a month search engines need to get a better business model so they can hire professionals who can truly combat spam; directory editors need to get over themselves and be objective

having to find ways to get keywords onto a largely image, sign-in or flash page without ruining the artistic qualities or being accused of spamming the SE's. Artistic pages or sites that require a sign on or age verification should not be penalized just because they do not contain a lot of text. Surely there is a way that is agreeable to both the SE's and the designers!! (Such as a SE only section of the code or a page just for SE's similar to the robot.txt.) Search engines always seem to rank irrelevant pages higher than mine competing against spammers

way too time intensive. Keeping up with the techniques is a full-time job. And I do not see this changing anytime soon.

Unscrupulous search optimization techniques being used by some to manipulate poor pages higher than more relevant pages

Search engines no longer fulfill their mission to accurately list websites, the system is beginning to break down. Getting ranked is now a game of matching keywords to their algorithm, or getting bots to secretly bounce the SE's what they want to see to get you the rank you need to allow your customers to view your site. The other option: paid listings, is unfair to small companies who can't afford to be listed as the large ones are. Directories and listings should be just that, a 'yellow pages' of sites. It has turned into something totally separate from that, and worse yet - it's not even defined! How can users expect to find something using an ill-defined, constantly changing, intricately formed structure? It's IMPOSSIBLE and an INCREDIBLE waste of time for all parties involved!!!

that writing a good descriptive title and description and informative text on pages dealing extensively with the keyword (phrase) topic, just to find out that it won't get listed - no apparent reason, it's honest pages giving genuine information...

clients who refuse to believe that if their pages aren't optimized (such as Splash pages or pages with gifs instead of html text) or contain some original content I will have an extremely difficult time getting them listed, let alone highly ranked

no standard system

constantly changing submission guidelines by some of the search engines. After all these years common sense guidelines should have been figured out (think I just "hit" on the problem -- they require common sense)

constant maintenance of my listings

lead time

the diversity of rules and regulations laid down by various SE/directory services as well as the uncertainty of being listed

The time delays between registering and then getting a listing

the uncertainty if in fact a site will ever get listed!

actually trying to get in the database. Some engines are soooooo slow the tedium of submitting to separate engines, with the real possibility that it will all be for nothing anyway

The relationships with other services like ODP that makes it so the decisions of one volunteer editor can greatly effect your search results across many major outlets

competing with spam artists, who submit our site multiple times to benefit their own listing and possibly block ours, steal our web pages (which has actually happened) and put them on their sites, and get seriously edited without contacting us. We've paid our $199. Why can't an editor take the time to email us with questions? They obviously could care less about our business trying to stay ethical and follow the search engine and directory rules when people are still out there spamming and cloaking and using unethical practices to get good listings. I don't want to be one of the "bad guys" just to make my clients happy

that I cannot compete with the sites that use blatant spamming techinques (invisible text, keyword stuffing etc )and you give them a higher ranking. I don't spam but may have no choice if this continues in the months ahead

The time delays and complete unsurety of what is going to happen. Also, I hate having to constantly research and track how search sites index

Discrimination between informational sites and commercial sites. Mine is both, with high-quality and a large quantity of information

length of time to get listed

Getting dumped sucks

Popularity ranking....new sites have such a difficult time to climb the ranks

Not having URLs added in a timely manner

waiting and waiting and waiting to be indexed

the directories, particularly Looksmart, but dmoz as well, is heavy-handed re-writing of descriptions, even when I submit descriptions that are accurate and I follow their instructions carefully Furthermore, the **very short length** of the typical description (particularly Yahoo) hampers the utility of the directory, since keywords are often not included in the descriptions, and therefore people can't find what they're looking for I am very happy with the new option to pay at Yahoo and Looksmart. Clients don't mind paying a reasonable fee for a quicker review. The fees don't affect the listings, which is good editorial policy, as well

the time to get it done. we are in business for heavens sake. Plus, complex sites with lots of content are actually harmed due to the way search engines expect a page to be one subject only

Frequency of updates (results are often stale)

Trying to get listed in both categories that are relevant for the product we market in Yahoo: wood windows and wood doors. I have tried now for years to get a listing under wood doors to no avail. We are fortunately listed under wood windows and get a lot of traffic that way

A lack of decent support

how complicated optimizing for the search engines has become

that there is often too long of a wait to get listed

With a couple of notable exceptions, submissions either take literally months to be processed or else are completely ignored

I can't pick one, I've got hundreds

Sometimes you don't get listed in the most relevant places, sometimes you get listed at most weird places for the most unimaginable keywords to have excellent content on my sites

Never knowing exactly why a web page or site didn't get listed in a search engine when other sites with poor content, no content or a page with "tricks" gets top 30 placement

Time delay

Some SE's don't provide a ready means of establishing if pages are listed e.g. host:www.yoursite.com

Length of time it takes to get listed and the uncertainty that causes

the amount of rubbish between me a top ten listing

Not many spiders deep-index

the lack of constancy in this business. What works one week is supposedly useless the next as the engines change their algorithms. I don't tend to get into the nitty gritty of counting percentages and density on pages, as what works for each engine seems to change from month to month. I would love to see some sort of recognition or association for those of us who work in SEO. This discussion list and other forums are definitely a great way to communicate with others in this community, especially when you're based outside the US. I wonder are paid listings going to be the way forward, a way of guaranteeing listings, and thus introducing some degree of constancy to this business. It would seem a pity if free listings were to disappear altogether and be remembered nostalgically in years to come as the good ol' days. So while I may gripe a bit about things changing from week to week, at least it makes this business exciting and challenging

Never could get my 45 RPM records site listed on Yahoo in four years of trying! Even though my company is the largest vendor of the product. And my site has many free resources for the music record collector

I would hate to see a massive move towards paid only listings. I can understand the need for the various portals and search engines to charge for enhanced listings but to charge for any listing at all penalizes the smaller sites which may have very good info but not be able to pay every search engine and directory for a listing

it takes a lot of time to optimize, and sometimes you feel like after optimizing the content doesn't sound right. Then you submit, and wait 8-12 weeks before seeing ANY results

My biggest gripe as a searcher trying to find sites is...

the latest AltaVista update, confirms my choice to use Google

not being able to find what I am looking for with a simple search phrase

Too much junk out there

spam and cloaking

digging through listings of page after page of the same site. I've seen as many as 30 listings for the same web site! The SE should have an option of "see other pages from this site" (Like AltaVista) I usually know in the first page or two whether the site is relevant to my search; it's totally useless to list each page! Thank you for letting me gripe!

I keep making searches more and more specific, and I still don't find pages that are very relevant (ie use my search phrase in the way I used it). all the competition among spammers

the quality of the sites that often appear first in results often seem substandard and not relevant

poor relevancy

As mentioned above: How can users expect to find something using an ill-defined, constantly changing, intricatally formed structure? It's IMPOSSIBLE and an INCREDIBLE waste of time for all parties involved!!!

too many irrelevant search results based on cognitive differences in keyword phrase interpretation... - I'm Danish ;)

the enormous amount of highly-ranked urls that don't exist anymore, are no longer even remotely relevant or haven't been updated in more than 2 years no standard system

all the clutter on the search results page. Why don't the search engines and directories pay attention to usability studies that clearly show web users want simplified web pages, less clutter, and less scrolling? Why can't the top 10 search results, across the board, be viewed on one screen (i.e. no scrolling) on a 17" monitor set at 800 X 600 resolution?

too many sites becoming portals with all of the "fluff"

Out of date content / missing pages

that one is never 100% sure that the sites listed are the most relevant ones.

It is usually best to stick to one SE and hope for the best

The amount of absolute sh*t that gets high listings and goes against everything we are told to avoid

the general lack of content in the majority of results. Always seems the most relevant information is lost in the multitude of duplicate site entries under different urls

Some algorithms don't make any sense, some searches have some really obscure results. I don't understand how these sites get top when my site has been carefully optimized. These top searches are not cloaked because they're some kids essay or a forgotten page that has nothing to do with the search broken links!! It is really annoying to get a search result with a site description that appears to be exactly what I'm looking for, only not to be able to get to the site

Finding a site I can stick with that I know will always give me dependable accurate results

rare with Google, Altavista and Excite. Open Directory is a nice sampling of sites. It's well organized. With Yahoo, it's a joke

weeding through all the "garbage" that really isn't relevant for what I'm looking for in a search. A lot of times I have to weed through a ton of choices just to find what it is I really searched for. When it's really diverse information, I find myself being led to dead links a lot too

that I often come across sites so old and out of date that it is amazing to me that they are still online. 4 year old sites on the internet with no updates might as well be 100 year old material. In this industry things change fast!

The trend toward giving preference to paid listings means that search results are much less objective and therefore less valuable. Content and relevance are much less important than selling the number one position to the highest bidder. Also, constant algorithm changes mean results are sporadic and unreliable.


the more specific I try to be the more unrelated sites come up. For example, I was searching for a product called YAMCON, which is a natural estrogen replacement therapy made from yams. I couldn't remember the name of it when I was searching, and when I typed yam cream estrogen replacement, sites were coming in about football teams. I particularly dislike the new model go.com has developed. I used to consider it one of the best search engines; now it seems to be one of the worst. (I also dislike the extraneous clutter on the pages in the new design.)

irrelevant results

having to go to too many search engines to find what I need

I don't have too much problem with this. I can usually find what I need. For many newbies, however, I do see how it is problematic. My kids, for instance, can't usually figure out the right words to search for and have problems. They do pretty well with Google, but many times they need me to help them figure out the right search query for their search

directories are less than intuitive and spider-based search engines seem to collect the cr*p of the web

I can't find what I am looking for, and I am a very experienced searcher. Google has improved this situation immensely, however. I usually can find what I am looking for in either Yahoo or Google. Yahoo continues to set the standard in completeness, accuracy, and quality of sites and descriptions. I like the new 'most popular' feature. This provides useful context

my clients site is relevant and is buried. Other sites that are not relevant show up instead

Irrelevant results (except on Google)

time consuming digging through site listings that have little to do with search terms used


that I don't think search engines will EVER solve the relevancy problem many search engines are now giving the exact same results for top 10 listings, because they are all beginning to use Open Directory and Direct Hit listings

Again, everything is way out-of-date in general

I can't pick one, I've got hundreds

No real gripe. I treat it as a game and enjoy finding relevant sites, however well the Search Engines try to hide them

to use many different search engines and directories Finding "real" information relevant to keywords typed in on the top 10 websites in a search engine query

Sites of obvious little merit/relevancy achieving rankings above other sites I have to keep drilling down for

Broken links/links to pages that do NOT match the content shown in the search result

the amount of rubbish that gets delivered along with the sites that I want

That engines are not always up to date or have odd ranking algorithms and directories will not always accept multiple entries - even where appropriate

when my time is wasted using engines that return irrelevant results. For that reason, I rarely stray far from Yahoo and Google

the large number of site that perhaps were good but are now dead or under construction (both for directories and se's)

algorithm changes

More Information


A must read, this is a moderated mailing list run by AudetteMedia, which operates other well-regarded lists such as I-Sales. Topics include those of interest to marketers and to general search engine users. To subscribe, follow the link above, which also leads to archives.

I-Search Search Satisfaction Survey
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 4, 2000

Provides further details of the I-Search survey and a summary of results.