Recently I have been reading up on human edited directories. How they work, are they any good and can they be used to improve your ranking in search engines?
Search engines use spiders and bots to index the web. These programs automatically check web pages and index them based on some algorithm. Google being the well known example of a search engine.
Directories use humans to add and categorise sites. Sites are placed in a tree of categories where the human thinks they best fit. And you can find sites about a particular topic by traversing the tree to the topic you are interested in. A classic example is Yahoo, and a newer example is DMOZ.
So, do search engine spiders read directories? And do humans adding to directories use search engines to find new sites?
On the second question the answer is probably yes. Some people submit sites to directories. Others are added because editors found them by accident or from linked sites. But I’m sure that editors use search engines to look for new stuff.
Now on the first question the answer is harder. I found a discussion about this at Digital Point(1), questioning the assertions an article at SiteReference(2) makes. Digital Point’s opinion seems to be that search engines shouldn’t read all directories, but they seem to. And you should submit your site to them. Just make sure that you read the submission guidelines before submission.
Wikipedia has a description of directories(3), as well as a list of major directories(4). It is also worth looking for specialised directories on your site’s topic, for example the RPG Gateway is a directory of roleplaying sites.