20 tips to start and run profitable paid web directory

“How to start a web directory?” is very often question on webmasters forums. After reading another such tread I decided to share some tips for people new in this filed, but also for those who are not so new. List is not definite, but should give you idea how “easy” this really is.

Ok, enough with this intro boring stuff, lets get to the point.

1. Choose a good domain name

a. If you want to be remembered you must choose good memorable and recognizable name for your directory-make a brand.

b. Including one keyword in your domain name (”directory” in this case) is also good idea if you want better chances to rank well for “web directory” or other less competitive terms in search engines.

c. If possible choose domain name that will start with a,b,c or d. You might get better positions in web directories or web directories lists that sort listings by alphabetical order. Not most important thing to do, but still might help a bit.

example of good domain names: Aviva Directory, Alive Directory etc.

budget required: 10$

2. Choose a script that suits your needs

Think about features you want for your directory and choose script that fits you best. Most user these days choose PHP Link Directory because there are a lot of mods and a lot of templates available.

However, feel free to check most recent list of web directories scripts.

Let’s say you chose PHPLD and and continue with that further in article. Single domain use licence with copyright removal will cost you 75$(25 without copyright removal-but you don’t want that option) and 10$ paid access to support forums.

budget required: 85$

3. Choose reliable and reputable web host

You don’t want to end up with your directory downtime or server crash. Choose reputable and trusted web host. Some host have problems with some scripts, so ones you think of host, do a search on google for “your script name”+”host name”+”problems”. Some forums tread or review might pop up and save some of your nervs.

budget required: 5$ per month

4. Create unique categories structure

a. Make your categories structure well organized and optimized for users.

b. Think about categories names-those will be title tags of your pages that are most important for SE renkings.

example: Owner of www.budget-hosting-123.com wants to get relevant links and SEO his site for “budget hosting”. He will do a search on Google for “budget hosting” and try to get link on all websites in results. If your category www.yourdirectory.com/hosting/budgethosting/ shows on first two pages of results, guess what happens?

c. Category names, e.g. title tags must be related to terms your customer is after in SEO. Don’t create categories named “others”-nobody wants to rank for that term.

budget required: 0$

5. Install mods that will help you make sales

One of profitable mods (for PHPLD) is deep links mod. It will allow your users to submit few more deep links (links to internal pages of their website) on their own listing page making your offer more valuable. If you are interested in exactly this mod, you can contact Anon , leading mod developer for PHPLD script.

budget required: 100$

6. Custom design

While Google page rank and Page Strength are most important things to your customers and only important thing for professional SEO’s, minimum 30% of your potential customers will be tempted to buy a listing based on your directory looks only. This will also make everybody see that you consider your business seriously and your directory is here to stay.

To find a good designer, ask for recommendation on webmasters forums or your script support forums. You can also contact owners of best looking directories with this question.

You can concentrate on links building and traffic first and get a custom design after page rank update (to help you covert your traffic to sales), but having custom design from start is better option. You are making brand, remember?

budget required: 500$

7. List quality websites in your directory by hand

Adobe will not submit their site to your directory, be sure. Listing great authoritative sites will benefit you in two ways:

a. You are building good resource for your visitors.

b. You are signaling search engines that your directory is valuable resource, made for humans-not a link farm.

budget required: 0$

8. Build blog(s) around your directory

Having blog or blogs on various topics behind your directory is big plus in many ways:

a. Blogs get more links than paid web directories and get better pr. Linking your main url(or even inner pages) from blogs can help you increase pr.

b. By having unique content you will get more traffic from search engines and reach more potential customers. You will also get non customers visitors that will check sites listed in your directory. Your customers listed sites in your directory to improve SERP’s, but some extra targeted traffic in their stats will put them smile on the face-resulting in repeated purchase and possible recommendation of your directory.

c. Ones your blogs get popular and strong parts of your websites, you can exchange links with other websites asking them to point link back to your main url.

For tips on starting a blog check out 21 surefire tips for a successful blog launch.

budget required: 0$ if you write everything yourself

9. Release free web directories templates

Pay someone to design and code templates for popular web directory scripts (or make them yourself) and give them free to use with condition to keep link in footer, pointing to your site.

You can find one or two sponsors who will pay you to place their links in footer too, with same requirement. This will save you some money, but you will also loose many potential users of your templates. Directory owners tend to have number of outgoing links as low as possible so they can pass more pr to their own pages.

Templates will be mostly used on new directories(mostly free ones), so don’t count on pr very much. One free template will usually end up being used on 2-25 directories, depending on quality, number of required footer links and promotion done on it.

So, you will not get much pr love doing this, but you will increase total number of backlinks from sites using your template and blogs writing about free templates. What is most important, you will get highly targeted traffic and increase sales.

budget required: 150-400$ per template depending on quality

10. Release free blogs themes

Principe is similar to releasing free directory templates, but few things are different.

a. Number of required footer links is not that important as in directory templates. Blog owners do not care about outgoing links that much so you can sell some sponsors spots for links in footer. However, it is still better to have only one link in footer.

b. Backlinks from blogs using your themes will most likely be unrelated to your directory and will not send you targeted traffic, but will attract more general public and pass you much more pr than directories. Blogs get high pr much more quickly than directories and themes are much easier to switch on already established blogs.

You can hire someone or simply buy themes with full rights on webmaster forums like Site Point or Digital Point

budget required: 150-300$ per theme depending on quality

11. Get listed in strongest directories

Listing in leading web directories will not only pass pr and get your directory a valuable backlink, but will also send you very targeted traffic. There are a lot of lists that sort directories by page rank, but I recommend you to check out strongest directories sorted by page strength.

budget required: unknown-depends on you

12. Get listed in web directories lists

This is probably most targeted traffic you can get. Having banner or featured listing here is a very good idea. Those lists are constantly visited by SEO’s and individuals who seek places to submit their web sites. They are hungry for quality links-you just have to serve them meal.

There is a large number of web directories lists and directories of directories. Some require link back to get listed like Directory Critic for example and others are paid for inclusion. Be sure to get listed in all of them.

budget required: unknown-depends on you

13. Advertise on SEO related sites

Buy links on SEO related forums and blogs. Choose high traffic and high pr ones, to make sure you benefit in both ways. This way, you will present your directory to SEO’s and if you are good enough-purchasing listings in your directory might become part of standard SEO procedure for some SEO companies.

budget required: 30-150$ per month and per site, depending on pr and popularity.

14. Advertise on webmasters forums

Webmasters are your targeted customers. Advertise on sites they visit every day. You can buy adwords on forums like Digital Point , start a paid tread on forums like Site Point or buy banner or text link on forums like WTF. It is up to you to test what converts best.

budget required: unknown

15. Buy signatures and avatars on webmaster forums

Yes, this is also an option. Instead of spamming forums with your link and recommending your directory in every “where to get listed” tread, buy signatures (links under every text in post) or/and avatars with your directory name and url. Search for members active in directories section and offer them money for this service. Prices range around 10$ per 1000 posts per month for signatures links and around 5$ for avatars.

Yes, this will increase you backlinks count, but your main goal doing this is to present your website to community and again to get targeted traffic and make sales.

On forums like Digital Point this is allowed, but don’t try this on Site Point-you will get banned.

budget required: 10$ per 1k posts per month for signature link and 5$ for avatar rent.

16. Analyze what your competitors are doing

To save some money for testing conversions of advertising and to find cheap links with high pr, analyze what leaders are doing. Simply type “link:www.populardirectoryurl.com” in Google or Yahoo and see where they are linked from.

17. Be a sponsor and donator

Offer money or free listings in your directory as prize for various webmasters related contests. For good example check out www.directorycontest.com

You can also donate some money for various purposes.You will help someone and get a link in return.

budget required: unknown

18. Provide good support to your customers

Review submitted listings in 24-48 hours. Answer questions that your customers ask. Don’t go to vacation and leave your site while you are drinking cocktails on a beach. Find someone to take care about your business while you are away. Time is money, both for you and your customers.

budget required: 0$ of you do this yourself

19. Reject spammy web sites

Refunding money to owner of spammy web site might not be the easiest thing to do for you, but you it is a must if you plan to benefit in long run. Create submission guidelines and stick to it, even if you have to reject 50% of submitted listings. Here is why:

a. You customers wouldn’t like to get listed among 20 “made for adsense” websites

b. You must keep quality of your web directory to provide surfers with valuable resource.

c. Linking to shady websites might get your directory de-indexed in search engines and ruin your complete business.

budget required: depending on you

20. Think out of the box

This list is not final. Not even close. Be creative and innovative marketer. Print stickers, buy commercials on TV or pay a prostitute to tattoo your logo on her ass. Be first to do something and get attention. With all this work and ivestments-you deserve it.

budget required: not possible to say

You are wondering “where did you get those tips?”

I have been interested in web directories for a long time now, since I design them and must stay up to date with relevant info in order to provide my customers with design concepts that will help them run their business in best possible way.

I learned a lot reading posts in directories section of Digital Point forums(thanks a lot to great community) and following promotion methods of leading web directories such as Aviva Directory, Alive Directory, V7n Directory, Directory Dump, LinksJuice, Forplex and many many others. Hope those guys will not get mad for “revealing their secrets” :)

If you find these tips good to know and want to help me back:

You can list this blog in your directory

or

you can buy 1$ link at my starting up Leading web directories list.

However, having your opinion on this is more than enough.


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