From time to time, eDirectory runs promotions that provide free sales and marketing consultation for our clients. The idea is, having seen hundreds of our customers create online directories, we’ve grown to see some of the basic approaches to creating a successful site. We’ve documented most of these in “Marketing a Directory,” “Selling A Directory,” and “Manning a Sales Team.” One question that comes up most in these 30 minute or hour long consultations is ‘What can I do to have people keep coming back to my site.” While we don’t have a magic formula to creating a dedicated visitor base, there are a few ways to use a blog as a hook to keep visitors loyal to your site.
A blog can act as the voice of your directory and set a tone to your site. This tone can often be what keeps readers coming back for more. Think about it — almost everyone today has a ‘round’ of websites they visit in the morning as they sip on coffee and dig through the inbox. What are those sites to you? What keeps YOU going back to them everyday? Here are some ideas to think about:
- Local Search – If you’re developing a local search site, you want your site to be the destination for all of the restaurant menus, drink specials, nightlife, local businesses and events in your region. If you are to be trusted as the go-to destination for everything that’s happening in your area, it’s good to go above and beyond cookie cutter listings on your site. Talk about what’s going on in your community. Local search sites should keep their finger on the pulse of the community, and that is one huge advantage true local search sites have over Yelp, and it’s something site owners can’t afford NOT to leverage. Yelp doesn’t list all the events in Kearney Nebraska, it doesn’t feed breaking news stories in Kearney either, so it’s something readers would appreciate having access to. Interviewing local Chef’s about their cuisine and suggested entrees, local business owners on their company and concentration of work, aggregating local news in your area – all great additions to your site that can be easily funneled through a blog.
- Buyers’ Guides, Business Directories, Product Directories – What is going on in your respective industries? If you’re developing a business directory, or buyers’ guide that focuses on a particular industry, it’s assumed you have a certain depth of knowledge to the subject at hand, as you should. What is going on in that industry? What things are happening that would affect the way people buy a certain product? What new products are hitting the market? If you want people to come to your site regularly, it’s vitally important that you update your site constantly and a Blog is a great way to do just that.
Some tips to consider when it comes to executing your blog effectively:
- Keep focused. It’s easy to blog about things you find interesting and want to write about, but does it fall in line with the scope of your directory? If you’re keeping your readers up to date on a new restaurant opening in Kearney one week, and going on a political rant the next, you’re likely going to lose readers along the way. Readers have expectations on what they’re going to get when going to your site and that’s why they will go there on a regular basis. If the scope of your blog is constantly changing, your readers will likely lose interest in being a loyal visitor. Make sure that you’re writing to keep your users informed , not for the sake of hearing yourself talk (or reading your own words, so to speak).
- Check Facts. One way to lose credibility and respect pretty quickly is to post erroneous stories or ones with inaccurate facts. Read up on what you’re about to write, make sure it’s accurate and go out of your way to cite the sources you’re pulling information from.
- Keeps a six inch voice. Just as you were told in school, it’s important to maintain a proper voice level in the world of blogging. When writing about a story, make your voice heard, but don’t try talking over people. If you’re posting industry news, breaking stories or perhaps tackling a big event, try to keep your commentary limited as you get started and get a feel for both your style and tone. Short, precise commentaries often compliment what you’re covering best.
- Everything in moderation. Similar to the previous bullet point, it’s not only what you’re saying that is important, it’s also how often you’re saying it. Some directory sites may struggle to push 1 or 2 entries a day, and that’s sometimes all you need to keep an engaged reader. If the topic of your directory is more broad or general, you may have to consider dozens of stories to comment on. Pick the gold nuggets and always consider blogging the stories that may not get coverage elsewhere.
- Write Responsibly. Remember everything you publish is for the world to see. If you’re writing about industry news, businesses, local events, be sure to do it with style. Remember, blogging doesn’t take accountability out of the picture, write with proper style and etiquette before you hit the publish button. For a few tips, check out: http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2006-10-11-n47.html
Blogging is a great addition to any directory site, as it puts a voice, a face and sometimes an attitude behind a site full of hundreds or thousands of listings. It’s another way to engage with your site visitors and show them the investment you’ve made into the directory you’re developed. Reviews, Interviews, Feature Stories, Event coverage — all great elements to cover via the blog that are likely to get re-posted by others, but more importantly, it’s going out of your way to show site visitors your conviction to the subject matter.