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Jean_Manco

Location, location, location

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This is the second in an occasional series on little problems that could deny a good site a listing in the Open Directory.

 

The despair of editors in Regional is the website of local interest which does not tell us the locale. Location is one of those details that can get overlooked in the concentration on superb content and cutting-edge design.

 

It could be a school so anxious to explain its teaching methods that it clean forgets to tell the world which city or even which country it is in. It could be an independent church that submits to North America with a city name on the site but no state or province. It could be a golf course that has a phone number, but no address, no map. These sites are not breaking any ODP rules, yet they could be unlistable.

 

A shop that sees its online face as purely for online sales and doesn't explain that it has a bricks-and-mortar shop front as well could be listable in Shopping, but miss out on a second listing in Regional.

 

Then we have the site that gives part of the address. This might be recognisable to those living close by, yet baffle editors from another continent. In the same vein are the helpful directions for getting there from the nearest village (country/state/county unspecified) or the sketch map that acts as an IQ test. Some editors refuse to be beaten. They will dig and dig, follow any clue and finally list the site in triumph after detective work worthy of Sherlock Holmes. But why make a listing so difficult?

 

The world is your audience on the Web. I learnt that the hard way. My site started life as a handout on research sources for my students. They are British (mainly). I didn't need to say which country I was talking about. The pages were just headed 'Sources for Building History'. But then I gave the online version the exact same title. Whoops! When I saw the frustrated souls searching my site for the Pyramids, I realised my mistake. But it was too late to change it. By then the site was listed in various places. So I live with a constant reminder of the importance of geographical clues.

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Hi Jean. Good stuff. It makes sense to have some indication of where you are on your site if you want a regional listing in the Directory.

 

I've noticed at least one place listed in the directory from my town that is no longer in business. They closed their local store, but the company still exists, and they have stores in other locations.

 

I'd sort of like to see that listing out of the directory. Or at least out of that region. It's misleading.

 

What happens when a business has more than one location? Will they be listed in multiple regions? Somehow, I expect that they won't. But, it seems like a good place and time to ask in the context of this thread.

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Billl - if you PM me details of the misleadingly listed site, I'll either deal with it myself or pass it on to the relevant editor.

 

I hope that this thread will cover a fair bit of ground (pun intended), so ask away on location, location, location.

 

A business should get listed at the lowest appropriate level. What is appropriate will depend on what type of business it is. The Regional Guidelines advise us to consider address and/or area of coverage.

 

 

 

 

[*]But the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation is listed under Mumbai Metropolitan Region because it covers the city and suburbs. [Metro area level]

 

 

[*]A property developer with offices in Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune, all in the state of Maharashtra, but with no offices outside that state, could be listed under Maharashtra: Business and Economy: Real Estate [State level] The Real Estate Guidelines are very strict. A business will get one listing only.

 

 

[*]An online shopping site offering delivery within India only could be listed under

India: Business and Economy: Shopping [Country level]

 

 

[*]A business with offices in more than one Asian country could be listed in Regional: Asia: Business and Economy. [Continental level]

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Here's an example I just came across of an increasingly popular way to show location - by a link to one of the big online map sites.

 

This well-designed site for St Helen's Church at Low Fell is an excellent example of good practice, with a full address beside a link to Multi-Map.

 

On a few sites I've seen clever use of an expanding series of maps from small scale (country or even world) to large scale, ending with a street map. I can't seem to lay hands on a good example right now though.

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This is an interesting topic. I'd love it if the local editor was more active in my area, though there is none listed for my municipality.

 

I did find it neat that supermarkets were listed, as were their locations, and it had each down as a [chain].

 

I didn't look to see if those were specific web sites for just those stores, or if they were the main corporate site, and every chain the store has holds it's own spot in a regional listing. How does that work?

 

Thanks, Jean.

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This is great data, Jean, and will be of help to people asking for listings at ODP and other directories as well.

 

Re the maps, here are a couple of websites that generate (from an address) a map; you can zoom in and out from street level to countryside. At least one allows links from websites:

 

http://www.mapquest.com/

http://www.mapblast.com

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Bill - Interesting question, but I'll have to pass. Maybe a Regional editor will pop in spreading enlightenment.

 

Diane - Thanks. I think those map sites are so useful. For the UK there is

http://www.multimap.com which will provide a location map "embedded in your web site."

 

What I had in mind though when I mentioned the expanding series of maps was a set custom-made for a web-site on a hotel or resort or whatever. I've seen several different ways of doing it.

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I didn't look to see if those were specific web sites for just those stores, or if they were the main corporate site, and every chain the store has holds it's own spot in a regional listing. How does that work?

It sounds confusing :D

 

If "National SuperStore" has a location in my town and a web site that is specific to that location, I would list that at the locality level. If they have a sub-section of their web site that is dedicated to the special offers that I will find in my specific store, then I would maybe list that at the locality level. If it is just a 'store locator' type of thing on their national web site with only a local address page then I would probably only list them at a national level or in the locality where their headquarters is located. It's all a matter of content and sometimes it's a tough call. The guidelines are guidelines, not rules :)

 

Just because you see something in a category doesn't always make it right. A new, over-zealous editor who is looking to list every single web site that they find that mentions their hometown may go overboard sometimes and list things that maybe shouldn't be listed. You know how exciting it is for a newbie :) If someone points it out to us we can usually fix it up in a jif. If you see listings at a locality level that don't look like they make sense, we really do like to hear about them over at Resource-Zone.com

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Thanks. I went back and took a look. These are listed under groceries. There are five of them, and four of them are chains. The fifth is a local grocery store, with one location.

 

The other four link to the corporate site, rather than a unique web page for the individual store. The layout of the listing is like this:

 

Store Name - Shopping Center name [chain] - grocery store.

 

Having the shopping center name there is useful, but this seems to be more like something I would see in the yellow pages than a directory of links.

 

I wish that there was unique content specific to the location. That would be nice.

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Why would anyone want a regional listing, if they can get a national/international listing?

 

Google PR for international cats is highest, national cats next and regional cats lowest - the only real value of the DMOZ directory is for Google PR. :cry:

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Why would anyone want a regional listing, if they can get a national/international listing?

I can think of many reasons, with the simplest and most obvious being that any local portal or directory would quite possibly only use the local/regional part of the DMOZ RDF.

 

Even more obviously, anyone who knows what a directory is and how to use it, should be looking for local businesses under the regional category as the first port of call.

 

Since many directories use keywords in the category path as a ranking criteria, choosing the appropriate region/location is likely to increase your ranking for searches that include the locality as a keyword.

 

There are other reasons too, but those three are quite sufficient.

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It's often better to be a medium-sized fish in a small pond, rather than a tiny fish in a great ocean. :D

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So you would recommend tagetting a PR 2 local category in preference to a PR 6 international cat?

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So you would recommend tagetting a PR 2 local category in preference to a PR 6 international cat?

Sorry, Kali, but are you under the mistaken belief that this is an either/or issue?

 

If so, you're mistaken.

 

A site that has a regional presence, yet offers a global service is entitled to both a regional and a global listing. You never sacrifice one for the other.

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If you're #6 in an appropriate regional category containing 12 entries, it may well be better than being # 132 in an international category with 150 entries. The PageRank being transferred may well be somewhat comparable in the two situations.

 

I was really thinking more of those who may find you via a directory search. Of course DMOZ lists you alphabetically so you'd better be early in the alphabet. Best of all is to be rated by a DMOZ editor as a cool site then that little star by your entry puts you at the top of the list!

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Black Knight is 100% correct.

 

It also pays to remember that small business sites will only get a regional listing. If you apply too high up the tree it just delays a possible listing for you.

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A site that has a regional presence, yet offers a global service is entitled to both a regional and a global listing. You never sacrifice one for the other.

 

Hmm, I see very few examples of this in practice, apart from large multinational corporations.

 

If you're #6 in an appropriate regional category containing 12 entries, it may well be better than being # 132 in an international category with 150 entries. The PageRank being transferred may well be somewhat comparable in the two situations.

 

The pagerank transferred from the regional cat is nowhere near that of the international cat in your example if, as is generally the case, the regional cat is 4 clicks lower down the structure. The number of links on the page would have to be of the order of 10 to the power 4 to have equivalent PR transfer.

 

It also pays to remember that small business sites will only get a regional listing. If you apply too high up the tree it just delays a possible listing for you.

 

?? If you are a small business in a lot of cases you are building a website to expand your customer base (to target a national or international audience) rather than to market to the people you are already targetting by dint of local presence/advertising. Only giving small businesses regional listings is doing them a diservice much of the time.

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Kali,

 

Dmoz doesn't care about page rank transfer. It is not in the business of giving sales.

 

The directory wants to give users the best results. The advice given to editors more than anything, is "describe the site, not the business"

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Dmoz doesn't care about page rank transfer.

 

I find this quite humourous considering I'd guess that 50%+ of all DMOZ submissions are done purely for the purpose of gaining page rank.

 

 

The directory wants to give users the best results. The advice given to editors more than anything, is "describe the site, not the business"

 

So the way to write a small business site for DMOZ is to state repeatedly that you export internationally and have clients from five continents. (I'll have to give that a try and see what happens - I haven't written a new site for at least a week)

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Submitters motives aren't a concern to the editors. What is of concern is people who try to "spin"

 

Writing a description like that will just annoy the editor. What he will be looking for on the site ( not your description ) is as an example, your branch details.

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I see very few examples of this in practice, apart from large multinational corporations.

Ah, but that's because most of them don't realise they can have both listings, don't provide address info for a local listing, and think to themselves: "Why would anyone want a regional listing, if they can get a national/international listing?" :)

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Black_Knight - I'll give that a try for a couple of businesses, that supply national mail order as well as local services. (I'm not confident that they'll get National listings on that basis though.)

 

 

Writing a description like that will just annoy the editor. What he will be looking for on the site ( not your description ) is as an example, your branch details.

 

Eddie I wasn't talking about spin on the description, more about spin on the whole site. (I worked out years ago that trying to spin the description doesn't work)

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I'm glad you brought up this issue Kali. I have long suspected that some people see Regional as a backwoods area with low visibility, whether you measure that in PR or any other way.

 

Barry and Ammon have shown that there is a different way to look at this from a pure SEO/SEM perspective. I couldn't agree more.

 

But let's clear away one myth. Whether a category is international or regional does not make an ounce of difference to its PR. PR depends on links, as we all know. The deeper a category is in the structure the lower the PR is liable to be. For example Canada currently has a PR of 8. Sculptors: Glass has a PR of 4.

 

Let's pretend that I am a web-designer. My site could be listed in Computers: Internet: Web Design and Development: Designers: Basic Service: M [PR 4 currently] and/or

Regional: Europe: United Kingdom: England: Bristol: Business and Economy: Internet: Web Design and Marketing [PR 4 currently].

 

So there's no difference in PR, but the international category currently has 430 listings. The regional one has 76. So more PR would be transferred to a listing in the latter.

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The subtle things about a site can make a lot of difference. It is more about whether the site will appeal to the audience than what it says.

 

An example:

When I was an editor, I worked for a short time in the business category for printing and printers. I often had to decide whether a site was truly 'global' or was actually of regional appeal. One UK site was definitely telling me in its copy that it was a global site. But in reality, everything about it was only really geared to UK business:

 

- There was no information about international shipping

- Prices were only in pounds sterling

- Telephone numbers hadn't been supplied with the International prefix

 

All those small things added up to the inescapable conclusion. I really had no choice but to send it over to the Regional UK categories. They wanted a global audience, but they didn't actually serve anything but the regional audience properly.

 

Hope that's some food for thought.

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I think that most people see regional as a backwoods area - whichever way it is measured. Though for some business there are significant benefits to a regional listing, especially in 'service' industries such as catering.

 

Some clever SEOs manipulate the PR of their regional DMOZ categories to their own benefit. :wink: (I've often wondered on the macro economic value of such moves as well)

 

..... :idea:

I wonder what would happen if a government body decided that improving the page rank of all the businesses in its area would be a good thing for business in the area and started linking to the appropriate DMOZ categories. Effectively it should see an improvement in Google ranking for all businesses in the area, thus leading to more new enquiries and more growth.

 

I already know of some local government bodies that run their own directories, which are really good for getting listings for small businesses.

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Couple of good tips in there Black_Knight - I would say that one of my ecommerce site prices in UK Pounds and does plenty of international trade. (We do have international shipping prices and phone prefixes on the site)

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I don't know about this PR mumbo-jumbo that you are all talking about, but I know where I would put a web site for a grocery store that is located in my town. Probably under the local Business_and_Economy/Shopping/Food/Grocery_Stores category. I'm just trying to build a directory of web sites to help people find what they're looking for - It's not rocket science :)

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That's all we editors have to worry about as editors Donald. I am concerned though at the number of submissions to topical categories that actually belong in Regional. Is there a prejudice against Regional? Kali has articulated what I suspect does lurk in the minds of at least some submitters. So I'm meeting it head on. :)

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donaldb, I don't disagree that the place for a local grocery store is the local retailers category. The problem comes when you have a local small business that make plastic widgets. Listing that business under the local business and economy category would be doing it a diservice, they are building their website to enable them to expand their customer base to a national/international level.

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Is there a prejudice against Regional?

Yes.

 

The fact is that the Global directory categories get more attention on the front page. They are easier to reach. They invite someone looking for a Business to start with the Business category. The fact that a browser may need a Regional listing isn't clear to the browser. I think that is a usability issue for DMOZ more than anything else.

 

There isn't a dmoz.org.uk that starts out with the Regional UK categories given prominence. It is only a more experienced directory user that has the foresight to look for and explore the Regional category rather than the Business one.

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Where would we place a one man web design operation ( probably working from his bedroom ) . It can be argued that he sells to the world, so should be right on the top along with the large international web design companies.

 

Small businesses are listed under their local category. When they grow and open plants, offices etc in other towns they become eligable for a higher listing ( althoughit i not a right ). If that business then opens up an office in another country......

 

It is a problem that all directories face, but the odp is pretty consistent.

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The fact is that the Global directory categories get more attention on the front page.

 

That had occurred to me too Ammon. I don't think that's a prejudice though. It's more a matter of visibility. I think that we have two different psychological processes here, but one may be having some impact on the other. The low front page visibility of Regional may feed the idea that PR in Regional is lower than that in the topical trees.

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But that's it exactly, Jean. The idea of Regional submission gets bitten twice, first in view of its visibility on DMOZ itself, thus not limited to those who practice SEO, but obvious to any who've ever sought a liosting in any directory, then it is bitten again in terms of both lower PageRank and increased clicks to reach it because the difference between a topical and a regional listing is some three entire sub-directories very often

 

Top: Regional: Europe: UK: Business and Economy

as opposed to

Top: Business

 

Here's a real example

Top: Regional: Europe: United Kingdom: Business and Economy: Industries: Marketing

vs

Top: Business: Marketing and Advertising

 

Even without PageRank or SEO issues, the topical cats are far, far more visible and accessible, while the Regional cats are less visible, less accessible, and under-valued even on DMOZ's own front page.

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Small businesses are listed under their local category. When they grow and open plants, offices etc in other towns they become eligable for a higher listing ( althoughit i not a right ). If that business then opens up an office in another country......

 

So in effect you are saying the the ODP is supporting big corporations in preference to smaller businesses. :mad:

 

This statement also contradicts the previous statement you affirming Black_Knights post on Global and Regional listings.

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Certainly not. The ODP doesn't support any business. The editor's job is to describe the site, not the business. The directory exists for people searching, not as a sales aid to business.

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It's probably far too far down the road to think about such things but ... It seems to me that we are really dealing with a huge basically two dimensional matrix. You have topics and you have regions, with one among the regions being Global.

 

So an ideal way for DMOZ to function would be to have a vertically split screen. On the left hand side would be all the topics. On the right hand side would be "all" the regions, including Global. In practice you would have to have some drill down function to help you home in on the region of interest.

 

A directory search would then be in two stages. You would first drill down on the topic side to identify the topic. You would also on the Region side either choose the Global level or drill down to find a more appropriate regional choice. Having made the topic and region choice, you would then click [Display] to show the list.

 

It's obviously too late to make such a change, but it might have been more user-friendly to have such an arrangement. :D

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One of the beauties of the ODP is that the data is free to use (under the license). Downstream users can play around with its presentation. I enjoy seeing some of the more imaginative uses of Dmoz data.

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The ODP may not have set out with the policy of giving preferential treatment to big coporations over small businesses, but from your description of the current policy of the categorisation of sites this is the end result.

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