Sunday, June 25, 2006


The Directory Myth

I've heard several people comment as of late on the effectiveness (or lack there of) of directories. My personal opinion is that directories can be extremely effective in terms of passing PR, traffic, and attention, both to the sites that list, as well as the directory itself.

There is a mutual benefit the directory owner, as well as those that list in a directory. However, in order to achieve these benefits, a directory needs several key points addressed.

The following are what I have found makes for an effective, and respected directory:

A well designed directory script
A well organized site with good categories and subcategories
Regular updates
Quality sites
No reciprocal links (almost none anyway)

A good script is one of the most important aspects of any directory. Once you start a directory it could grow large in a short amount of time. You need to make sure you have a good foundation, otherwise problems could arise later costing you a great deal of time.

A good directory script should have a well thought out admin control panel where the admin can easily, edit, approve, and delete listings. The admin should also allow for good category manipulation, and the ability to maximize revenue with site wide links, AdSense/YPN, and PPC ads.

I find add placement should flow with the overall design of the directory, not encumber it with flash pop ups, or an over abundance of AdSense ads for instance. Less is more should be the philosophy. Your mission here is to establish your directory as a respected quality directory site; not some spammy clone of which there are thousands currently.

Regular updating of your directory is essential to keep the directory looking fresh to the search engines. People are going to be less apt to list or advertise in your directory if it is full of thousands of dead links to sites that no longer exist. Again, a good directory script is essential in assisting the admin in this task. The KingBloom Direcotry keeps the directory fresh using a bot that regularly queries sites in your directory to make sure they are still live. Those that are not (after several tries) are eventually de-listed, and the site owner is notified of this de-listing. Your directory should almost never have a dead link in it.

The best way to obtain quality sites is to make your directory paid. I've seen countless people in the SEO community (out of greed or stupidity) build some cheesy directory thinking it is the path to riches. How many directories have we seen that have 3 listings, 10 categories, some GoDaddy "Fly - by - Night" catchy domain name that are asking you for exorbitant amounts of money to list. There is no value there. Your premise behind making your directory paid should be to insure that only quality sites are listed. People that pay you are more apt to not only list higher quality sites, but may actually take the time to list the sites in the proper category. They also seem to use proper case and grammar when listing. My suggestion has always been, with new directories, to make them FREE until such time as you reach around 20,000 listings. After that, charge a nominal fee on a 3 tier plan. For instances:

1. Basic Listings (just to be listed)
2. Premium Listings (get listed, but have some color or links/alt text that stands out)
3. Super Premium Listings (get listed, have some color or links/alt text that stands out, but rank above all other listings)

If you really expect people to pay you money to list your site, you better be offering them some value. Your directory should be well indexed, have good PR, and INTERNAL PR, be well organized, and most of all, have a sizable number of listings and categories. A directory with 100 or even 1000 categories should NEVER be asking for money, and you should NOT be listing in it.

Now, the subject of reciprocal links has always been another hefty topic of debate with detractors on both sides. The argument for reciprocals is obvious. In lieu of paying for a listings, you may opt to pass a link back to the directory (with a provided link/alt text or script) in order to get a listing in the directory.

Works great for the lister, but for the directory owner, what kind of crap link is being passed back? It has often been said that many SE's frown on such reciprocal linking. I tend to agree. Also consider that the person listing the reciprocal link may either not list the link, or may remove it after a short time. Here you are passing a link and perhaps PR, while they are passing you nothing.

The choice here is really yours. I can see a case where a reciprocal link might work to the directory owners advantage. Let's say you create a script where by the reciprocal link has an image with the logo of your directory, and some type of validation and tracking, to insure the link remains there. If the link disappears or the the script is messed with, the listing is de-listed.

I could probably talk all day about this subject. There is obviously much more involved in starting, running and maintaining a successful directory. I hope this small insight into my opinions concerning directories helps you in your directory building.

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