Google Directories Leads the Way

By BrianHeM10BrianHeM10 (1222703580|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Over the last few years, Google's distance ahead of everyone else in the search field continued to grow. Nevertheless, I have stuck with using Yahoo Directories when browsing for information. I liked the presentation of Yahoo's directory service and it usually helped me find information. I really never knew (or cared) that Google had its own version. Yet, today when I was comparing the search results of Google Directory and Yahoo Directory for "Software as a Service", I came away with a lot of useful information from Google and absolutely nothing from Yahoo.

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The Query & The Browse

The benefit of directories is to be able to go in without really knowing what you are looking for and find a list of categories and websites that relate to a general idea you have in mind. Thus, the purpose of using these two directory services to search for "Software as a Service" was really to find some categories that relate to SaaS to use for future searches. My decision on which tool was more helpful is based on three criteria: 1) what the directories found when I typed in "Software as a Service", 2) what categories I found as a result of those results, and 3) what I found on my own starting from the home page.

Yahoo Directory Results- Very Poor

Unfortunately, the search results from Yahoo Directory were extremely poor and only returned 79 listings. The one highlight was that SalesForce.com was the 2nd result. Everything else was somewhat unrelated and/or inconsistent and the top three related categories are: Application Service Providers, B2B Customer Service Software, and B2B Electronic Data Interchange. It just was not what I wanted.

Google Directory Results - Very Good

Google Directory was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. There were 636 results and all the results on the first two pages actually had Software-as-a-Service in the title or description. SalesForce was the first result! It is really nice when the leading company in the SaaS industry is the first thing to come up when you search "Software-as-a-Service".

The categories that were attached to some of the first 5-10 results were also very helpful. For example:

Computers > Internet > On the Web > Web Applications
Computers > Software > Business > E-Commerce > Business-to-Business
Computers > Software > Rentable
Computers > Internet > Web Design and Development > Hosted Components and Services

All of these led me to some really interesting listings of companies/products I had never heard but were grouped with companies in the SaaS 20. Fantastic! Searching is not always about finding what you know is out there but do not know right now. It is also about finding out what you do not know right now and do not know is out there. Proof:

SmugMug - A really awesome Photoediting/Sharing online service that sat below Flickr, Webshots, and Photobucket in the "Computers > Internet > On the Web > Web Applications > Photo Sharing" directory. Signed up, played with it, and its actually a better interface than anything I've used so far!

The Browse Test

After looking over the results of my searches, I went back to the home pages of both directories and began doing manual browses - going deeper into the directories one level at a time. Yahoo Directory really lost me once I got into the Computers —> Internet area. It was just really difficult to find where to go next. For Google, I got very deep and was able to find my way back to each of the four categories I mentioned above without going directly there (as in, I used other related categories to find them).

In summary, Google Directory worked like a charm and Yahoo Directory was a sad dissapointment. As usual, Google seems to just take the lead over everything Yahoo tries/tried to do.

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