Online directories have been a useful way for consumers and businesses to connect since the early days of the internet. Even after all these years, there is still demand for optimized online directories across any number of locations and niches. If you want to develop your own online directory, follow this simple checklist to get started.
8-Step Online Directory Checklist
1. Choose a Niche
Increasingly, consumers are browsing for business information and reviews before making any buying decision, and a directory can meet this demand. When they are maintained at high standards, online directories can succeed in almost any niche. One option is to build a directory for a city or specific location. Alternatively, a directory could target an individual industry. Popular examples of directories include local businesses, job sites, restaurants, hotels, events, nightlife and real estate listings.
2. Decide the Goals of the Directory
Directories offer many possibilities and it’s imperative to determine precisely what the goals are. For instance, a directory could target the maximum number of people for entry, or aim to limit entrants to maintain high standards. Making the entry process more demanding might improve the general perception of the directory, but could reduce overall revenue. Again, identify the goals of the project in the early stages to make building and promotional efforts more effective.
3. Create an Outline of a Listing
Before building the directory, design a framework for the site – including what will be contained on each business listing. Some directories take a minimalist approach, while others offer a range of features with different subscription levels. Understand that listings with very little content could be flagged by Google, reducing the chances of the business listings being indexed in search.
The traits of a high-quality online directory include the ability to add a business name, address and phone number, opening hours, images, video, a comprehensive description, categories, a map listing, reviews and social links. The more substantial a listing can be, the better for users and search engines.
4. Build the Website
A directory needs to work across all web browsers and devices. With a substantial portion of searches taking place on mobile, this is extremely important to optimize for. There are various tools that can assist with the web development process if you choose not to start from scratch. Here are some popular directory building tools.
- Brilliant Directories
An alternative approach is to use a WordPress plugin designed for online directories. Here are some plugin options.
- Directories Pro
- Sabai Directory
5. Develop the Monetization Strategy
Monetizing the directory will allow the website to generate revenue, and there are various options for this, with the following appearing on many of the most popular platforms.
- Advertising – Banner advertising, classifieds and event promotion can create consistent income. As the user base grows, there should be more demand for advertising space.
- Paid Listings – A business can pay to have their listing placed prominently on the site. After a user conducts a targeted search, a paid listing could appear in a prime position.
- Claim a Listing – A directory could add business contact information to the platform and charge if companies want to create an enhanced listing.
- Trust Badges – Directories can create an application process that verifies the quality or authenticity of a business. We offer this on our directory, Trusted Local Directory.
- Bookings – Adding the option to take bookings on behalf of listed businesses creates the potential for commissions.
6. Create Strong Branding
Generic directories without a reputation could struggle to get consistent traffic. By developing strong branding, users remember the site and develop trust in the listings. Think about the directory name, logo, color scheme and unique selling point.
7. Implement SEO Strategies
An effective SEO strategy will ensure visitors continue to find the directory for appropriate searches. Directories should ensure both on-page and off-page optimization is applied – and regularly updated.
- On-Page SEO – Includes elements like title tags and meta descriptions, image optimization, schema markup, fast loading, internal linking and more.
- Off-Page SEO – Directory promotion across social media, Google My Business and third-party blogs and websites.
Conducting regular audits of a directory with the Google Search Console will reveal areas for improvement and optimization.
8. Additional Online Directory Promotional Techniques
Starting an online directory from scratch will require patience. However, if a directory has the budget to invest in paid advertising, the process can be accelerated. Google, Bing and Facebook advertising all offer advanced targeting, ensuring relevant parties are reached. Content and email marketing can also bring additional interest to the directory, along with a larger user base.
Start an Online Directory Today
If you are ready to start an online directory, the ADP’s latest guide can help. Learn the important steps required for developing a successful directory. If you need help creating an online directory email us, we can help with that too.