A few tips for anyone attempting to setup a quality paid directory.
1. Unique design is a must. And make sure it looks at least presentable. A lot of those who submit to your your trusted directory directory would have been submitting sites to directories for a while now. If it looks very familiar to other directories (especially free ones), they may find that it is not worth it if the directory owner himself did not take the effort to get a unique design. Worse, they may think that your paid directory will not last long.
2. Get a real webhost. No seriously, a reliable host is more important than having high PageRank or some super doper cool features. If your directory is constantly down, what’s the point of it being “online”? If you need to spend a little more on webhosting, please do.
3. Having SEO friendly features is a must. In the past, directories are meant for surfers to source for sites relevant to a topic or subject. Now, it is mainly used for SEO and most of your clients will be looking at your directory and seeing how will it help them rank. If your directory can improve their Search Engine rankings, you got them into your little bag. Some even look whether your directory will give them a little PageRank push or not.
4. Having unique features. Well, it cannot always be unique but how about useful features? Let’s say, you allow your customers to deeplink? Or you allow them to place their logos on their information page? Or how about having a thumbnail of their site? Hey, how about letting them have keywords in their title? How about a little blog? Or some games or the latest news if you are planning your directory to be a portal? These features can help make your directory more of a value to your customers and to stand out. Even more so now that the competition in this arena is very stiff.
5. Good quality “content”. Make sure you add sites to your own directory and these sites should be “authorities” on their subjects. And when you approve sites for inclusion, make sure that those sites are not spammy ones. Nobody wants their sites to be placed among spam sites, it gives them a bad reputation. And it gives your directory a bad reputation as well. If you have to lose a few bucks, so be it. Oh, you should always re-write the site description and try to make it unique. If you have other content (like a blog or a article section), try to make them unique and useful to your visitors. Good content always win in the end.
6. Never launch your paid directory empty! Don’t do that because it doesn’t look good to your clients. And it looks like you didn’t even make any effort to get some sites into it first. Reputation is important to a directory owner. People respect hardwork and if you are lazy, your directory will show it. As mentioned before, you should add some quality sites into your directory and try to minimize the number of empty categories before the actual launch. Everyone hates empty categories, especially Search Engines – nothing for them to index.
7. Have a decent PageRank first. Make sure your directory gets a decent PageRank first. I know what you guys are thinking, PageRank means nothing right? That may be true somewhat. But having a decent PageRank also tells your potential clientsthat you have backlinks, which means that there is a better chance of being spidered and more often. Having a decent PageRank also tells them that you have been spending some money and effort on promoting your directory and getting those costly links. This means that your directory surely won’t be a fly-by-night directory. And better still, a lot of people still believe in PageRank and the benefits it gives. So why not make use of this perception? Furthermore, PageRank alone can sell, if you don’t believe me, just look around you.
8. Promote like crazy. Advertise your directory whenever and wherever possible. Either through adsense, banner ads or just through your forum signature. Marketing and promoting your directory should be a priority for a paid directory owner. Why? Because there are a lot of other paid directories and they all want the same thing as you – paid customers. Without promotion, nobody will notice you. Without promotion, no matter what you offer your customers, sadly they won’t come. When you are doing the sell, make sure you highlight your directory’s good points. Sell the good points (especially those unique features) and explain in detail the benefits of getting listed in your directory. But avoid looking like a crappy salesman. We all know how untrustworthy these people are. If you are ethical and honest, I am pretty sure your reputation among other directory owners and your customers will improve and soon they will become your very own promoters. Respect and trust can go a long way too. And furthermore, if in the future you have any other directories, your current clients will be the first to sign up.
9. No spelling mistakes. You should never have any spelling mistakes, especially for the front page and the About Us page. It’s just not professional to have spelling mistakes and makes your directory look sloppy. You will be surprised that a chance glance on a spelling mistake can be a very big turn-off and make your potential customer think twice about getting a listing on your directory.
10. Complete your directory first. There should be no “Under Construction” sign in your directory after you launch your directory. Make sure everything works without problems, like your payment system or your featured listing placement thingy. You should have tested your entire directory and make sure it works perfectly. As I mentioned before, always resist the temptation to release your directory too early or unfinished. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you don’t add any new features. If you have any future plans, by all means, go ahead and add more value to your directory. In fact, you should constantly find ways to improve your directory. No kidding. Don’t rest and expect your competition to do the same. Just make sure it whatever changes doesn’t affect your current directory.
11. Start small. I always believe in starting small, especially in a competitive market like Web Directories. If you have a new paid directory, don’t try to join the big boys and charge the same as them. In time, when your promotion and advertisement starts to bear fruit and your reputation has grown, you can slowly increase the pricing. Remember, some directories took years of promotion, hardwork and sweat to get to this state, don’t expect your own result to be immediate.
Hope that you can make use of these tips when you are starting your paid directory. And all the best to ya and your directory. Hope you will have a successful career as a web directory owner!
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