Navigating the Google Directory
Now that you know how the Google Directory gets its listings, let's spend some time using the thing. It's a lot like using Google's regular search feature—with the ability to browse the listings thrown in.
Searching Directory Listings
Most users opt to use the Google Directory much as they do the regular Google search page—that is, by searching the directory, rather than browsing it. To search the Google Directory, follow these steps:
- Go to the Google Directory home page (directory.google.com)—not the regular Google home page.
- Enter one or more keywords into the search box at the top of the page.
- Click the Google Search button.
Google now displays a search results page like the one in Figure 3.3. This page looks a lot like a standard web search results page, with the addition of a list of related categories at the top. Each result listing also features a link to the category in which it is included. Click a category link to view all the pages listed in that category.
Figure 3.3 A Google Directory search results page—note the Related Categories link at the top of the page.
Browsing Directory Categories
If you're accustomed to using Google to search for information, the concept of browsing might be new to you. It's really quite simple; it all hinges on the concept of hierarchical organization of information into topic categories and subcategories.
You start at the Google Directory home page, where 16 different categories (and a handful of subcategories) are listed. Here are the major categories:
- Kids and Teens
You start your browsing by clicking a category that matches your interest. This displays a major category page, like the one in Figure 3.4, that lists all the subcategories within the major category. (Sometimes a few related categories are listed, also.) For example, The Home category lists 25 subcategories, such as Apartment Living, Consumer Information, Cooking, and the like.
Figure 3.4 All the subcategories of a given major category—click one to keep browsing.
Click a subcategory link and you'll see a subcategory page, like the one in Figure 3.5. Some subcategories include even more subcategories (sub-subcategories?), which are listed at the top of the page. You'll also find a list of related categories; then you'll see the list of pages within the subcategory.
Figure 3.5 More subcategories within a subcategory, as well as pages listed in the subcategory.
These pages are ranked (using Google's PageRank technology) in order of relevance. The green bar to the left of each page listing visually indicates the relevance; the bigger the green bar, the more relevant the result. Each listing also includes the title of the page (click to jump to the page), the page's URL, and the editor's description of the page.
Searching Within a Category
When you stumble across a big category, one with lots of pages listed, it may be difficult to find exactly the page you want. To that end, Google lets you search for pages within a category. All you have to do is navigate to a category or subcategory page, enter your query in the search box at the top of the page, check the Search Only in Category option, and then click the Google Search button. Google now searches the current category—and only the current category—for the keywords you entered, and displays the results on a separate search results page.
Searching within a category can be particularly useful in restricting your search to a particular topic. For example, if you search the entire Google Directory for lions, Google might return pages about lions (the animal), Lions (the football team), Lions (the public service organization), or any number of other lion-related subjects, as shown in Figure 3.6. But if you first navigate to the Sports, Football, American, NFL category and then search for lions, you'll see only results related to the Detroit Lions football team, as shown in Figure 3.7.
Figure 3.6 The results of searching for lions across all Google Directory categories.
Figure 3.7 The results of searching for lions in the Sports, Football, American, NFL category only—a much more targeted search.