Uncovering the Google Directory

    March 24, 2005

Google users are so used to using the search field to find their pages that they often overlook the Google Directory system.

In fact, most don’t even know that it exists. You get to it by going to http://directory.google.com/ or searching Google for [google directory] and finding the link to it at the top of the search list. Here’s what you get:

This directory combines Google search technology with the Open Directory pages, developed by the 20,000 volunteer editors from the Open Directory Project, who review websites and classify them by topic. There are currently over 1.5 million URL’s categorized.

What’s the value of using the Google Directory over the regular Google web search?

  • You can search within any category or subcategory that you’ve drilled down to. You’ll get only results that fall within that category.
  • The Google Directory is particularly useful when you’re not sure how to narrow your search, and can help you understand how topics within a specific area are related and may suggest terms that are useful in conducting a search.
  • It can give you an idea of the breath of a given category
  • You might prefer to only see sites that have been evaluated by an editor.
  • When you select a main category, you will be shown a list of the various subcateories, any of which you can click to drill down further.

    You can continue drilling down through subcategories until you reach a list of web sites under the lowest level subcategory. Any search within Google Directory will search only the category you are currently in. This can be very useful. For example, a search of the entire web for Patriots’ might return pages on any number of subjects, But is you search “Patriots” within the category Sports > Football, American > Professional >, you will see only results related to the Detroit Lions football team.

    Here’s a little trick: Let’s say you are in Google’s regular web search, looking for something there but would like to switch into a targeted directory category instead. You can do this quickly by searching for the words “google” and directory”, plus a word that might be in the heading of a category you want to zero in on. The first item on the resulting search page will bring you directly to the Google Directory category page

    For example, if you are looking for a site on Astronomy, search for [google directory astronomy].

    Try it out by clicking it. The first item you’ll see in the search results will be the Astronomy category page. Click that and you’ll go right to the category page.

    Mark Fleming is the founder of a new blog called Google Tutor & Advisor. Google Tutor & Advisor offers in-depth Tips, Techniques and Advice for Google Users.

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