Given how harshly Google punishes web directories that do not play by the rules, more and more of them are disappearing. The few that remain Google-compliant, such as Jasmine Directory, are still useful complementary tools to search engines.
Google has made significant changes to the way it evaluates website content. It rewards quality sites that have relevant, verifiable information rather than keyword-stuffed text and useless links.
Humans are still better at some things than search-engine algorithms, and thorough content evaluation is one of them. Jasmine, founded in 2009, is one of the last directories to rely on people. Its editors ensure that the listed websites provide sound information and attract high-quality, targeted traffic.
Co-founders Robert Gombos and Pecsi Andras teamed up at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics to develop Jasmine. The company is currently headquartered in Valley Cottage, New York.
The directory provides educational resources and lists businesses of public interest. No suggested site is added to the list before a thorough review for quality, accuracy and content relevance.
Jasmine does charge a modest fee for marketing, compensating the staff and other expenses, but paying the fee to suggest a resource does not guarantee inclusion in the directory. If a website is turned down after the exhaustive review, the fee is refunded. Apparently, this practice is well within Google’s guidelines.
Mark Cutts, a former Google employee, explains that paid directories are held to the same rigid standards that paid links are judged by. There are several ways to set off Google’s algorithms and get a directory shut down. Sourcing bad links and welcoming web riffraff are taboo. Selling links designed to manipulate search-engine rankings is easily caught. Allowing users to choose their own anchor text also attracts the wrong kind of attention from Google.
The fact that Google has not taken action against Jasmine, as it has with hundreds of other directories, is evidence that Jasmine is fully compliant.
It is also worth mentioning that Jasmine is doing its part in the war against spam. According to the company’s website, the reasonable fee ensures quality and indirectly reduces spam.
Gombos, the CEO, does not mind saying that the directory is selective and even exclusive. He cites Angie’s List as proof that impartial human evaluation is crucial to a good user experience. Optimization may impress algorithms, but it does not impress Gombos and his team.
Ninety percent of Jasmine’s listings are added manually. An audit is run every two to three months to weed out dropped domains and links that no longer work. If a website disappears, it has a limited time to come back online before Jasmine drops it from the index.
The editors are quick to reject affiliate-only websites for their pedestrian content. Redirected sites and sites with questionable legitimacy are turned down. Jasmine also shies away from pharmaceutical sites because so many of them are illegally operated.
The Jasmine team hopes to guide consumers to valuable information, products and services without manipulating them or telling them how to think. Since maintaining objectivity is one of the company’s guiding principles, repetition or overemphasis raises red flags. Calls to action and superlatives like “best,” “leading” and “No.1” result in prompt rejection.
Websites with high-quality text, attractive layouts and unique information, on the other hand, get high marks. Gombos and his staff are gratified when those sites rise in the Google rankings.
The directory is organized by topic and region. The resulting 14 categories and their subcategories consist of the editors’ choices. Each category contains a thorough description so that users who want to suggest their resources can choose the most appropriate grouping. Category examples include business and finance, technology, news and politics, marketing, people, health and fitness, home and garden, and arts and humanities.
Around 10,900 websites are represented, and every one of them has been visited and carefully considered by an editor. Editorial discretion is a bedrock value at Jasmine; editors reserve the right to modify listings without notice.
Ken Anderson, a longtime webmaster, reviewer and directory editor, has nothing but praise for Jasmine. During the years that he reviewed dozens of directories every quarter, Jasmine consistently appeared among his favorites.
“Let’s face it,” says Anderson, “there are a lot of really bad websites selling backlinks through a directory script, but they are not representative of the industry; the good ones, like Jasmine Directory, and several others, are the ones that represent the web directory industry.”
Directories that connect potential clients to the business owners who will best serve their needs can expect to live a long life. Jasmine appears to be succeeding and passing the Google-compliance test as well.