A Web Directory That Helps You Do, Not Find
Interview With Gimpsy Founder - Mordechai Chachamu
Gimpsy is a different kind of directory, listing only sites that provide online activity or help you accomplish a specific task. Gimpsy founder, Mordechai Chachamu explains why.
DW: It only takes a cursory glance at your home page to appreciate that it is quite different from all other directories out there. Perhaps we can start with some background about you and Gimpsy. When, why and how did it all begin?
MC: The inspiration to Gimpsy came way back in 1999. As is the case with many other inventions – it came out of frustration with existing technology. I was trying to buy something on the net and used the search engines to get to the right site. I spent many hours and visited many sites without success. I started to think "WHY can't I get the results that I want?" and it occurred to me that the reason is that the search engines don't UNDERSTAND what I want! "But is there a way to MAKE them understand?" It was then that the idea of Gimpsy was born. Gimpy is built so that once you have made your INTENTION clear – it provides you with a list of sites where you can accomplish them.
DW: How was Gimpsy funded?
MC: After the flash of inspiration, I naturally thought that people would just fall over themselves trying to secure a slice of the golden pie. As an MBA graduate, I knew what I was supposed to do, business plan and all. The time was the height of the dot com boom and the world was awash with entrepreneurs like me trying to secure funding. I nearly made it – but the promised funds never materialized. Then came the big crush, and with it the realization that Gimpsy will become a reality only if I will make it so. Using my (very modest) savings and help from my family, we managed to get where we are now. We would welcome interest from investors, but Gimpsy's survival is now assured.
DW: What is it that makes Gimpsy so unique?
MC: The most fundamental difference is the categorization model. Every directory follows the footprints of the first major directory – Yahoo. The home pages of all the directories look virtually identical – they all have 'Arts', 'Business', 'Computers', 'Health', 'Science', etc. A Yahoo style Editor that reviews a site tries to answer the question: What is this site ABOUT?
A Gimpsy Editor, on the other hand, has a different question in mind. He or she asks "What can the user DO on this site?" Thus, the home page of Gimpsy simply lists VERBS, like 'buy', 'design', 'play', 'subscribe', 'trade', etc.
DW: The slogan "Active Sites for Active People" is related to Gimpsy containing sites that provide an interactive online service. Can you expound on this further, explaining what kind of sites are actually included in Gimpsy?
MC: Gimpsy is highly selective when it comes to site acceptance. It will only accept sites for which the question "what can I DO here" is relevant. If the answer is 'reading', the site is not accepted, irrespective if the information if of the highest quality and the content is the most authoritative in the field. Some Site Owners find it very hard to accept.
DW: OK, but how does this help the searcher?
MC: By insisting on accepting only sites that provide online activity, the user gets a unique search experience at Gimpsy - 100% relevant results! Just browse any category at Gimpsy and it will become obvious. For example, Buy > clothes > uniforms > sports or Learn > how to > use the Internet or Order > personalized > songs & videos, they all present the user with a list of sites where the desired goal can be achieved – online, no 'ifs', 'ands' or 'buts'. A great insight into the variety of areas included in Gimpsy can be seen at the Category of the week page, that holds all the categories that were nominated in the past.
DW: In your publications you keep emphasizing the 'Natural Language' search method. Why do you think that Gimpsy will succeed where giants like Ask Jeeves have failed?
MC: Gimpsy is the only general purpose directory where you can enter a 'normal' English phrase and get relevant results. For instance, try entering 'buy sport uniform', 'learn how to use the Internet' or 'order personalized song'. As I said, you just tell Gimpsy what you want to DO online – and it will show you which sites provide that service. For more examples, see http://www.gimpsy.com/gimpsy/searcher/examples.php, where the last 15 Natural Language queries are kept.
DW: It's easy to see that every site in the category 'Learn > how to > use the Internet' would be relevant to any user interested in that activity, but surely not all sites in 'Order > fast food' would be. After all, a New York based pizzeria will not deliver their freshly baked pizza to Chicago. How do you overcome the geographical restriction?
MC: We just take it into account. Any user, even if not registered with Gimpsy, can set his/her 'Preferences', which include the selection of their 'Location'. Once the location is chosen, Gimpsy will show only sites that are relevant to that location! No other global Search Engine or directory is able to deliver localized search results anywhere near the accuracy of Gimpsy.
DW: But how can you tell?
MC: As part of the editorial review of every site, the Editor is asked to determine the site's 'Coverage'. In other words, to answer the question: Which areas in the world are being serviced by the site? It is a common experience among the non-USA Internet users to find a great site that has just the right merchandise and the right price. Only after placing the order and entering the Credit Card details they discover the 'so sorry – we only ship within the USA' notice. You will never have such an experience at sites found at Gimpsy.
DW: That must be very time consuming!
MC: Indeed it is. I have nothing but admiration to the amazing work that our Editors do. Being a Gimpsy Editor is far from easy and requires a lot of training and dedication. That is one of the reasons that we do not use volunteers.
DW: Can you explain how the "My Gimpsy" feature works?
MC: This section is for users that wish to make the most out of the directory. Following a simple registration process (in fact – VERY simple), they gain access to an online form that allows them to communicate directly to the Gimpsy Team. Most importantly, perhaps, is the access to the 'Favorites' facility. As the name suggests, you can add sites to your 'Favorites' collection, similar to your browser's Favorites. Unlike the browser, when you select a site from Gimpsy to be added to your Gimpsy favorites, it retains its classification in your private collection! For example, say you found a great site in the category 'Buy > home & garden > pool & spa > sauna'. If you decided to keep it in your favorites, it will be entered there under the same categorization. Even if you have amassed a large collection (and some users have accumulated hundreds of sites), it is always easy to find them again.
DW: What else can a user do to fine-tune the search results?
MC: In addition to the usual 'Preferences', many categories have additional 'attributes'. It would be easier to explain by example. In the category Buy > home & garden > window covering there are now 49 sites (assuming Location is set to USA). On the right hand side, there is a drop-down list titled 'Covering Style'. Clicking on it brings up various types of windows covering, such as blinds, curtains etc. If you select 'shutters' the list of sites will shorten dramatically and you will see just 9 sites. Thus, if you were looking to buy shutters for your windows online – you now have a perfect list!
DW: Is Gimpsy more "spider friendly" than other directories? If so, how?
MC: That would depend on your definition of 'spider friendly'. Do you mean the extent of indexing of the directory pages by Search Engines?
MC: Well, in that case, you can get an objective indication for it at the directory section of Strongest Links. From about 80 directories, Gimpsy is ranked 7th in the world (at the moment) in total 'Saturation'. But that's not the full picture. If you check the 'info' page of the leading directories, you will see that Gimpsy is much more 'balanced' than many other directories and is indexed well in all the Search Engines. The advantage for site owners is that a site listed in Gimpsy is likely to be spidered and indexed by many Search Engines – not just Google. As you know, getting indexed by some Search Engines is a notoriously long process, unless you are willing to pay for inclusion.
DW: Does Gimpsy contribute to the PageRank of sites listed in it?
MC: Indeed it does. First, unlike many other directories, Gimpsy allows sites to be listed in several categories, which means that a site may have several links to it. In addition, each site has its own detailed information page, which links only to it. Many sites can see their back link from Gimpsy at Google, even though the home page has, at the moment, a PageRank of just 6.
DW: Is submission to Gimpsy free?
MC: Gimpsy provides a free submission option. There are no strings attached – totally unconditional. However, as the queue for review is now very long (by the way, we operate on a strict 'first come first serve' basis), a free submission is likely to be reviewed after 4 months or more. As we are becoming more and more popular – the queue is likely to lengthen much more.
DW: You must get tons of spam submissions. How do you effectively deal with this?
MC: First of all, we ensure that it would be nearly impossible to use a script to submit sites to Gimpsy. Only hand-submit works. Then, we make it very clear that we are very stringent in our Editorial process and we will NOT tolerate spam. So far, I can't say that it has been a major problem.
DW: You do offer a paid option as well. What are the advantages of using the paid option as opposed to the free option.
MC: Our approach to the paid option is to provide maximum value for money. Thus, we do not just promise (with a full money back guarantee) that a decision will be taken within 72 hours, but we also offer additional benefits too. For example, every site accepted through the paid option is promoted to a prime position for 90 days. Interestingly, every one knows how important it is to rank high in the Search Engine result page, but they don’t think that the same applies to directories! Our internal statistics show that nearly 70% of all the referrals went to sites listed in the first 10 places. Thus, a paying site will not only be included faster, indexed by Search Engines sooner and enjoy a higher PageRank, but is likely to get many referrals too.
In addition, we also provide 90 days free use at the Strongest Links site, which in itself is worth nearly as much as the current submission rate of $40.
DW: Besides the paid submission option, are there any advertising opportunities on Gimpsy and if so, how do they work?
MC: Here, too, we have chosen a unique model, which we believe is the best for users, Site Owners and Gimpsy. It works as follows:
- Every category has a limited number of prime positions, to be auctioned on a monthly basis.
- Site owners can submit a sealed bid for one of the available places.
- On the 1st of the month, all the bids are opened and ranked according to the bidding sums.
- The 1st place goes to the highest bidder, second place to the next one and so forth, until all the available places have been taken.
- All other sites are randomly reshuffled.
That’s it. The winning sites will enjoy a significant boost in visitors – without any additional payment.
DW: Is Gimpsy's mission to be different in every aspect? Why not use Pay Per Click (PPC) like everyone else?
MC: I see you want to extract some venom from me… OK, then :). We do not believe in the PPC model - it is a recipe for dishonesty. Every day thousands of Site Owners are losing vast amounts of money to PPC engine owners, paying for non-existing 'users'. I am not saying that all the PPC owners are blatantly cheating, although some certainly do, and I have experienced it myself. The problem is that the PPC system makes it so easy for competitors to harm each other, by using either automated scripts or employing an army of ‘clickers’ from India, as was recently revealed. They get paid, the PPC owner gets paid and only the Site Owner is left with a hole in his pocket. I believe that the Gimpsy model is superior and hope it will become a blueprint for others too.
DW: What are your future plans for Gimpsy? In other words, where do you see Gimpsy in a year from now?
MC: Gimpsy's Mission Statement states: Gimpsy will be the definitive guide to the World Wide Web virtual city. This encapsulates our desire to be the first choice for every user that wants to do something online – and doesn't know which sites provide it. Thousands of people are bookmarking us every month, and the trend upwards is unmistakable. I expect that trend to continue – and to gain momentum. We may not fulfill the mission statement in a year – but we intend to enjoy every moment of the journey!
DW: Many thanks for your detailed response.
MC: The pleasure is all mine!
Interview conducted by David Wallace (May 2004)
About the Author:
David Wallace is CEO and founder of SearchRank, an original search engine optimization and marketing firm providing keyword analysis, organic search engine optimization, link popularity enhancement, pay per click management, search engine friendly web design and ongoing campaign maintenance.