What Is the Difference Between a Web Directory and a Search Engine?

There is much information on the internet that it has caused many issues to the internet users. The majority of online content is confusing and misleading. If you are looking for particular information, for instance, you may be overwhelmed with the amount of content available.

Finding accurate and relevant information is the most challenging part. To reduce these problems, these details are cataloged. Web directories and search engines are the two services available on the internet for cataloging. This article explains the difference between these two services for easy understanding.

Web Directory

A web directory is also known as a link directory. It is a reference section on the World Wide Web. It compromises a myriad of information arranged into classifications. It helps to connect to other websites and classify those links.

Web directories store websites by subcategory and classification. Internet users search for the majority of sections. A web directory allows webpage owners to present their sites for consideration, where editors analyze entries.


Search Engines

Search engines are web applications that are designed to search and find resources and information on the internet. Because there is immense data on the World Wide Web, it has become more challenging to index information in an easy-to-access manner. The web search engine is the best solution to this problem.

Web search engines function under the following principles: crawling, indexing, and searching. Crawling helps the search spiders to collect data and information available on the internet. This is made possible via software known as a web crawler or spider.


The spider is a program that uses an algorithm to find relevant information on the internet and automatically follow the associated links. The collected data is then indexed and stored in directories for future queries. The web spider finds and index contents of a given page, including URL, texts, videos, audios, hyperlinks, and meta tags.

When you search for information on the internet or a page on the web, the web crawlers retrieve relevant information from the stored databases and show the results as a list of linked resourced on your web browser.

Web Directory versus Search Engine

There is a significant difference between a web directory and search engine, which are highlighted below.

  • Meaning

When you use the search engine to search for information on the web, you are looking for just the web objects and web pages that the search engine has come across at some point. You do not get all the information that is accessible to you because no search engine has that capability yet.

Web directories comprise millions of sites. When you look for information in a directory, you are only looking for the websites that have many in the directory. Web directories can either be specific or broad related to the subject.

  • Working

The search engine has crawlers and spiders, which are programs designed to search the web to retrieve and store site pages. These programs are unique and work differently. Therefore, the same search crawlers used by different users will provide exceptional results.

People design web directories. Similarly, a web directory will retrieve websites for relevance and quality before storing them into the directory.

  • Files

Crawlers or robots make search engine files. Human editors develop web directories files.

  • List

Search engines usually yield results of specific pages of websites, while web directories list several sites that are the primary registry of webpages.

  • Database composition

Search engines use complicated algorithms to compose data, while web directories use a hierarchical tree model to create a database.

  • Usage

Web directories are designed to find a list of websites while search engines are meant to retrieve specific information quickly.