A web directory, or link directory, is defined as an online list or catalog that provides general information about companies. A link directory site is fashioned after traditional telephone books in that it normally provides seekers with the name of a company along with the business’ telephone number and website. Perhaps the greatest perk of web directories is their ability to provide exposure to the masses without companies having to invest in personalized websites. This notion was not one that the father of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, conceptualized when he created the first web directory in 1992.

The rise of the World Wide Web was quite exponential during the end of the twentieth century. Many corporations were learning the benefits of worldwide exposure via a computer screen and only thought to capitalize on such opportunity. The problem of organization quickly came to light as there was an abundance of websites from which consumers could choose, yet no structure for buyers to sift through and make informed decisions. The Internet quickly morphed took on the form of an unkempt child’s playroom.

Tim Berners-Lee, in all of his parental wisdom, sought to bring a bit of order to the situation. He established the first recorded web directory in 1992. Of course, the purpose of the listing source was solely to provide Internet users with a way to distinguish between websites for a better search experience. Berners-Lee contribution was so significant that a page of the original server is still preserved for observation.

In many respects, today’s Web experts took lessons from Father Tim and improved on the web directory experience. Yahoo! Definitely caught the wave and capitalized on the database during the golden years of 1995 to 2005. It was during this ten-year span that consumers relied heavily upon web directories to point them in the right direction for everything from good eateries to nice hotels in which they could reside.

After the year 2005, however, there seemed to be a decline in the use of local listings online. Search engines such as Google and Bing began using web crawlers to find companies and delivered more updated information that attracted consumers. Still, even with the existence of crawlers and heavily robotic databases, nothing compares to the human touch that web directories provide.

Imagine spending half the day sifting through search engine results only to find a good seafood restaurant that is more than fifty miles away. You drive the distance, enjoy the food, and return home thinking that you have accomplished something in life. A week later, you discover that the best seafood eatery in town is five blocks from your home. The restaurant did not appear in your search because it lacks a website. A local directory, however, would have listed the brand regardless of its ability to establish a personalized online presence. Such is the reason why web directories will never go out of style.

Search engines, in all of the efficiency, fail to adequately recognize small businesses. Even though the algorithms are constantly updated in efforts to give all companies a chance to shine online, it is impossible for giants such as Google and Bing to honor those businesses that choose to provide quality without establishing a website that speaks of such excellence.

Thankfully, web directories do not depend on the entrepreneur’s decision to become an online presence on his own. Instead, the service gives the business professional an opportunity to advertise with just a company name and telephone number. A real estate agent who is just starting out can get his name out there without the additional expense that comes with SEO and other forms of online marketing. How’s that for efficiency?