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Branding a Directory

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How do I Create a Successful Directory?

There are a few things which are important to do when creating a directory. To maximize the long term success of your directory you want to ensure:

1. Search engines can index your inner pages. If you only have one page show up in search results then you are missing out on most of your potential traffic.

2. Search engines can index the links going to external sites. Few people use directories compared to search engines. A large portion of the link price is going to be based on how search engines evaluate the links.

3. Your directory should be focused enough to be of high quality.

4. Your directory should have an original brand, feel, or idea.

5. Your directory should not have a cheap feel to it. ie: it should feel like a directory and not an ad haven…

Search Engines Indexing the Pages

This is vitally important. With so few people searching through directories today a large portion of the traffic comes directly from people finding the directory pages within search results.

This is some of the traffic which justifies the fees of a listing cost. This is some of the traffic which is buying more listings. This is some of the traffic which clicks ads to make the directory revenue.

Search Engines Can Index Outbound Links

Since few people use directories to surf the web a new type of implied value has been placed within their links.

When Galaxy and Yahoo! came out there were no great search sites on the market. That is a large part of what led to Yahoo’s success. In the decade since the inception of Yahoo!, search has evolved from non existent to one of the world’s most powerful industries. That is why Yahoo! spent nearly $2 billion buying search products in less than a year.

These search engines need to be able to see, read, and evaluate these links. These links are fundamental in telling search engines what our sites are about. Without indexable links directories must create a ton more direct traffic to justify inclusion fees.

Directory Focus & Quality

It takes a ton of effort to create a comprehensive directory of the web. This is why Yahoo! charges hundreds of dollars per year. This is why having over 50,000 editors is still not enough for DMOZ.

If a directory is to be done correctly, it needs to be done a better way. That way might mean that you create a business model which is functional and economic (as John Scott of BlueFind hopes to do), or it may mean that you need to keep the directory focused enough to be able to be the best directory for that particular web segment.

Branding a Directory

  • Yahoo! – great name, one of the first directories…branding
  • DMOZ - the completely free directory…world’s largest directory…open source…branding
  • Gimpsy – the verb based directory…branding
  • Business.com – the business directory…easy to remember, focused…branding
  • WoW Directory – the most categories of any directory on the web…branding
  • Biz Directory – the directory offering a free script which is powering many other directories…smart…not necessarily branding, but this is the type of idea which can help offset a lack of brand development.
  • There are many people out there using an absolutely free directory script to power sites which have no branding distinction or even any real angle to them. They simply create pages which look much like other pages. These sites may make some revenue off of AdSense or similar programs, but they are a generic service.

    Selling Ads

    Many people see the idea of paid submissions and want to immediately lick their chops. I told one guy I would help promote his directory in exchange for free submissions and he told me to go screw myself. I know that I am a damn good SEO and I could announce his site to hundreds (or more like thousands) of people, thus adding value to his directory.

    He was adding up the value of my listings at $25 each incorrectly. You see, any idiot can buy a directory script. Any idiot can get a few paid submissions, but most people are not focused enough in their ideas, and most do not know enough about branding to actually make their listings worth $25 – $50.

    Of course you can help boost your PageRank by renting links, but again, most people who know nothing about building a quality product, branding, or SEO also know nothing about link rentals.

    The Problem with Only Listing Ads

    The real problem of his business model (or the business model of any general directory that wants to charge for all listings) is that they make it hard for some sites to get listed. Some of the best sites on the web are a labor of love. Some of these people lose money every day giving away their knowledge – this is why people flock to the internet. To read the views of these people.

    These sites are the sites which add value to a general directory. They are why people would want to use your directory. They are why people would want to link to your directory.

    If you require a payment for listing any and all sites (link or cash) you can guarantee that your directory will be missing out on some of the best stuff on the web. Short term these directories can make money, but they fail to build value.

    If you fail to give people a reason to want to surf your directory, and you fail to give them a reason to want to link to your directory then they won’t.

    If you have a topic that interests you and there are no good directories for it on the web, it is a good idea to become the first. I am trying to create a directory of these good types of directories. Feel free to submit your quality directory for free inclusion into the Directory Archives.

    Aaron Wall is the author of SEO Book, an ebook offering the latest
    search engine optimization tips and strategies. From SEOBook.com Aaron
    gives away free advice and search engine optimization tools. He is a
    regular conference speaker, partner in Clientside SEM, and runs the
    Threadwatch community.

    Branding a Directory
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