What is an online directory?

I’m sure I might be the only person my age who has used a phone book, must less understood what one was, but a web directory works the exact same way. It’s almost like a wiki for websites, and although for a while not too many existed, they do seem to be making a comeback.

Typically websites are found by typing search terms into an engine such as ‘nearest pizza place’ then the computer runs through its own algorithms and tries to find the most relevant websites that match those terms. A directory simply allows for the specification of the terms and helps the consumer find the exact site they are looking for.

The process of using a directory

Using the pizza search as an example, if I were to go into a directory I would first see several large general items, such as ‘Arts, health, food, and business.’ I would find food or a general item similar to what my search term would be, such as restaurants.

After clicking on the appropriate general term, which would be food in this example, I would be taken to a page with several subcategories that would include: ‘Italian food, Mexican food, deserts, and restaurants.’ I would click on restaurants to narrow my search down further, and then continue clicking on specific subcategories and letters.

Going from restaurants to Italian, to the letter P are the next steps, then I would find pizza restaurants and finally be taken to a page where I would be given several sites that are the homepages for pizza restaurants. Then I can examine the information the directory gives on each site and click on the site that works for me.

Why you’d use them

The example above proves that directories are more than a little complicated in terms of narrowing down a general topic to something that can get the results you want. However, that time is useful because you know that you will find a result that is exactly tailored to your needs.

The same amount of time could be spent wrestling with a search engine to find your result in one of the thousands of sites that all hold your search term and more than likely you’d only get the most popular/keyword heavy websites. However, directories just group the sites by topic, and every result regardless of popularity is on there.

Also, directories are like a scavenger hunt and a game of twenty questions all rolled into one! Who doesn’t like that over typing in a search bar and simply hoping for the best? With several directories for every single topic, including news, video games, and life, you’ll be able to use them for every single need without typing and retyping them into search bars.


They might be outdated and require a bit more work, but it is fun to use a web directory, and since they take you to specific sites that match your criteria perfectly, wasted time clicking on the wrong links soon becomes a thing of the past.