The Online Directory Business Model (and how to succeed)

The online directory business modelStarting a new business with an online directory is a very attractive option for several reasons. Online directories are one of the most effective business models within the online media space and can be used by agencies to grow revenue or by entrepreneurs to launch a new digital company.

Some advantages of the online directory business model:

  • Easy and affordable to setup;
  • Provides a valuable service for people making purchase decisions;
  • Much of the content is user-produced, meaning the business can be run with a small team;
  • Low ongoing maintenance;
  • Generates high-margin, recurring revenue.

In this article, we’ll cover the foundation of the online directory business model, as well as learn how to monetize the business and get the first customers.

What is an online directory?

An online directory is a guide that assists people in making a purchase decision, whether it’s a local guide for restaurants and hotels, a niche product, such as a guide to help set up a wedding, or a business-to-business guide for buying factory equipment or enterprise services.

Online directories provide information about specific businesses including their names, addresses, contact details, associations, services, and products offered in the form of listings. Businesses are typically categorized based on their location, activity, or rating, and the directory must ensure that all the information in its listings is accurate.

In this business model, there are several niches to be explored and each one of them generates value differently for users and clients (which we will discuss in the next chapters).

How does the basic business model work

The basic business model is creating a site that has a list of all the relevant suppliers, which includes detailed information about what they offer, photos and videos, ratings, and reviews.  The model originally was used by yellow page companies, which in the US was a 20+ billion-dollar-a-year industry globally.  Also, niche B2B media companies often published vendor and supplier directories.

The online directory business model has been in use since the late nineties. Did you know that Elon Musk himself, when starting his climb in the business world, created an online city guide with maps and yellow pages, founding Zip2?

Back then, the company’s strategy was to create a physical database to promote this service to major newspapers and media publishers. He managed to close deals with major publishing houses like the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and others.

In short, in February 1999, he sold the company to Compaq for $307 million. With the $22 million he received for his 7% stake in Zip2, he next launched an online bank called X.com, which merged with Confinity to form PayPal in 2000.

Interestingly, since then, the online business directory model has grown more and more, attracting the attention of different brands, products, competitors, etc.

eDirectory Business Listing Online DirectoryBusiness listing information example and how the information is displayed in an online directory.

The power of curation

Online information is everywhere these days – you can find information about a business on Google, Facebook, and many other sites. So why would people need a directory? The value is in the curation. The directory shows all the suppliers, ratings and reviews, and other information making it the authority to help make the purchase decision. There is so much information out there that curation is especially valuable, filtering out the noise and delivering only what’s really valuable.

By exploring the best content available in a certain niche, your online directory will be recognized. Customers value the diverse perspectives offer about the topics and interests that interest them. So get to know your audience, what are your customers looking for? What are their pains and needs?

Pay extra attention to the following points in order to have an effective curation process:

  • The kind of audience you are trying to build
  • The segment of customers you are trying to attract

Knowing your audience (and your niche) is key. Remember this.

As a source of curated content, your online directory’s purpose is to share listings, events, deals, and classifieds that your audience wants. It acts as a funnel. It is one of the most important ways to build trust between you and your audience. The better the content you provide, the more likely you are to receive clicks and referrals.

Get to know the types of online business directories

There are several types of online business directories to meet the most diverse interests and segments you could think of. Here are the most commonly used today:

  • Online local businesses;
  • Classifieds;
  • Real estate classifieds;
  • Job boards;
  • Freelancers;
  • Domestic services;
  • Events;
  • Weddings;
  • Doctors;
  • Travel, hotels, and food,
  • Softwares and apps;
  • Auto sales.

The key elements to having a good online business directory

For your online directory to be of higher quality, it must consider the following parameters:

  1. Breadth and depth of data for the categories the directory covers, so it has all the relevant listings and all the relevant information about each listing.  We have an entire Webinar dedicated to this topic.
  2. Provide relevant related content to attract more traffic (blogs, videos, social media);
  3. Present advertiser listings in an attractive and organized, with good descriptions and images;
  4. It is essential to have integrations with providers for online payment, allowing sales through this channel (check your local and major gateways);
  5. An online sponsor dashboard would allow sponsors to fully manage their listings. This saves time and allows greater flexibility for advertisers;
  6. To ensure a higher position in the search rankings of your listings and websites, it is essential to have content optimized for SEO;
  7. By providing maps and information related to the locations of listed companies, the directory site becomes much more useful to users.
  8. Reviews are important to make other users from your audience to have based purchase decisions.
  9. Invest in good quality photos and videos, hire a photographer or an image specialist. Good photos make your online directory look and feel more professional, and also make the sponsors sell more.
  10. And curation, as we mentioned before. Stay in your niche, promote an Editor’s Choice Award and other creative contests to engage with your audience.

How to get the first customers for your online directory?

To get started, you need to develop some marketing strategies to promote your online directory and attract your first customers. It is a job that requires a certain amount of patience to take the right steps and achieve the desired results.

Next, we will present some tips to attract the first customers to your online directory site, which are:

  1. Build listings on your site to grab users’ attention as an empty business directory doesn’t grab anyone’s attention. You can scrape listings and start filling your website by yourself.
  2. Use social media to promote your online directory, as your target audience is in these spaces and willing to interact with brands;
  3. Take advantage of the opportunity to establish a relationship with your audience by electing your visitors’ favorites in a certain niche;
  4. It is interesting to start using paid advertising, such as Google Ads, to increase traffic to your online directory quickly. Bing ads are also an option;
  5. Drive traffic to your directory site and build authority for your brand by writing relevant content and using guest blogging. Organic strategies typically require a longer time to work;

These are just a few suggestions to get you started in making your online directory popular and profitable.

How to monetize your online directory?

Certainly, most online business directory sites make money by providing visibility to their partners. This happens both with the dissemination of products and services and with the use of spaces for advertisements.

Additionally, some websites offer premium advertising and spaces. Once you have your online directory, it’s time to monetize it. It’s what generates business and profits.

Other forms of monetization can also be found in niches and differentiated business models, for example:

  • Affiliate Marketing;
  • Sales of leads;
  • Sponsored newsletters;
  • Disclosure on social networks.

Edirectory Free guided demoPaid advertisement inside the online directory business model

The option of paid advertisements to earn income in the online directory business model is the most used and applies to several types of online commercial guides, such as:

  • Stores;
  • Restaurants;
  • Subscriptions to scientific articles or videos;
  • Job vacancies, among others.

In this type of monetization, businesses pay to have their brand appear at the top of search results in their category. This is certainly an effective method of gaining visibility.

In addition, this type of listing generates recurring revenue, as the company can pay a monthly membership fee to have your name displayed throughout the month at certain times.

The listing is displayed on the first page of its categories, depending on the type of plan that is chosen by the companies. For example, a plan might offer three levels of memberships, such as:

  • Bronze ($30/month): Featured listing in a category and 2 photos to upload;
  • Silver ($50/month): Featured listings in 3 categories, 5 photos to upload and 1 social media account link;
  • Gold ($100/mo): Featured listings in 5 categories and 1 rotating ad slot, 10 upload photos, and linking 5 social media accounts with active feed updates.

In this example, it is clear how the advantages of each plan are increasing and how you can choose the one that best fits your budget.

Interestingly, the amount charged by companies to advertise their services and products directly relates to the quality of the directory site. Thus, the better your online directory, with a lot of good listings, the more you can charge for these plans.

As well, the more traffic your site has, the more opportunities you have to attract advertisers.

Ad spaces available

You can also monetize your online business directory by selling ad spaces, i.e. banners. Initially, you can offer free advertising space to encourage sponsors to start using your online directory.

You can also use the rotating banner to sell the same space to different companies. This requires defining a marketing plan that can be weekly, biweekly as well as other options.

One way to charge for ad slots can be Cost per 1000 impressions (CPM) or cost per click (CPC), or by setting a monthly fee for a certain space in a specific location on the page.

Take advantage of every opportunity to advertise your online directory. Some ideas can generate good results, such as promoting events related to the niche market in which it operates. Or even promoting articles, classifieds, and everything else that may be related to your business and generate an audience.

How to get started?

This is a critical step in getting your business directory started and on its way to success.

With the tools available today such as directory templates, themes, or online directory scripts, it can be overwhelming to build and update your online directory yourself or have to rely on a developer.

A company that specializes in online directory site software has a lot to offer for your online business model. For example, eDirectory is an extremely complete and commercially available directory website builder.

It offers its users all the tools to create, manage and promote a successful directory site. It also offers a robust list of resources, including some essential tools to help you market your directory online, such as:

  1. Ability to create professional directory listings with images, videos, social media feed, and coupons within an intuitive and beginner-friendly interface;
  2. Customize your pages to fit your needs, using a visual editor to create different categories for each listing you create;
  3. Seamless integration with the most popular social media platforms and encouraging advertisers to promote their own listings with social sharing links;
  4. Automatically integrate with Google Maps as new listings are added;
  5. Providing automatic payment reminders to listing owners as their payment due dates approach;
  6. You can generate business for your advertisers by allowing them to create their own coupons and offers directly from their listings. Additionally, you can sell them banners ad space;

To get a better idea of all these eDirectory benefits, go to edirectory.com and schedule a free guided demo. You will be surprised!

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Content Marketing Strategies For Online Business Directories

content marketing strategies for online directories

If you are launching an online directory there are a number of content marketing strategies to help you attract an audience and build engagement.  Content marketing is part of a larger marketing category called Inbound Marketing and is designed to attract your business’ target audience by building content pieces that provide information and reinforce authority on the subject matter.

In this article, we’ve outlined some of the key content marketing strategies that are most effective for building an audience.

  • Why is content marketing important for an online business directory?
  • How to get started with a content marketing strategy
  • 7 content formats to explore in your online strategy

Copyright: (c) Bakhtiarzein | Dreamstime.com

Why is it important to use content marketing strategies for online business directories?

Content marketing is part of a bigger category of marketing activities called inbound marketing, or attraction marketing as it is also known.  This is different from outbound marketing which takes the value proposition to the customers.

Content marketing offers several benefits such as:

  • Educate your audience about your niche;
  • Promote your business’ authority;
  • Generate engagement from your target audience;
  • Take a softer approach to convert users into customers;
  • Reduce your business marketing costs;
  • Expand your site’s organic traffic and visibility.

How to start a content marketing strategy for online business directories?

Now that you know the importance of utilizing content marketing strategies for your classifieds website, you might be wondering how to get started, right?

Well, contrary to what many people think, a content marketing strategy does not simply involve posting blog posts on your website at random but rather, researching, planning, executing, and measuring the results (and the use of different content formats).

So, before thinking about creating content for your online business directory, you should consider all the steps in this process and think about aspects such as:

  • Who are you creating content for?
  • What are the goals of your strategy?
  • How do you plan to promote them (channels and formats)?
  • How will you fit content into your business’s sales funnel strategy?
  • How will you measure your results (KPIs)?

All of these are critical to achieving successful results in your content strategy for online business directories.

Once you plan, execute and evaluate the results, you can make the necessary adjustments to the strategy to improve it further.

7 Content Formats to Explore in Your Trade Guide Strategy

A content marketing strategy is not based on just producing content sporadically and only in one setting (people often associate with blog posts). On the contrary, there are several formats that you can adopt, mix and reframe in your planning.  Here is an overview of a few successful formats.

1. Interview with Advertisers (video, podcast or text)

Create a sense of importance in your advertisers by inviting them to an interview by telling their story, and sharing their knowledge. Invite a prominent sponsor and record an interview in webinar format, highlighting their background, strategy and successes (as well as their mistakes).

To save time this can also be done via email, where you regularly send a set of questions to directory listing owners or other people in the industry, edit them and post as articles or blogs.

The goal here is to generate more engagement with your audience, creating identification with real people, so that other users can connect and interact through your platform. We recommend that you hold webinars or do a written email interview with a guest once a month and then feature it in your directory site and other channels such as social media or newsletters.

2. Create Local Itineraries

For local search directories, a great way to drive readership is by creating a virtual itinerary of good options for businesses and services offered in your guide. Contact advertisers and offer space within your itinerary, but be sure to curate it to give your audience a good experience. It can be regional food restaurants, craft and arts stores, street food vendors and other attractions that might be of interest.

You can structure the itinerary into a blog post, or article, including mentions of listings and advertisers, as well as videos and photos to enrich the material and rank higher on Google. You can create thematic itineraries based around holidays and events (watch the calendar). Renewing annually to update with new tips and content.

3. Create Top 10 Lists

Another great opportunity to generate engagement with your advertisers and visitors is to create Top 10 or Best of lists, with the best picks from your online business directory. Use “editor’s choice” badges to value the top-rated advertisers and offer this premium space in a top 10 of the year in key categories in your business directory, such as best restaurants, best dental clinics, best car dealerships, accounting offices, lawyers and others.

Top 10 lists are usually run annually, selecting the best services, products and advertisers. Send an email to selected candidates informing them that they are participating in the selection for the best of the year in their category. Define how the choice will be made and reward the winners with a special badge for that year and promote the result on social networks and groups of your online directory.

4. Create Infographics

Infographics about different subjects relevant to your directory can help capture attention by telling a story with information and images.

This format increases engagement and traffic to your site on search engines. First, think of a narrative (a story) that you want to include and what main data you should gather, for example: an infographic that shows the main attractions in your city center on a map, or an infographic that shows the reviews and prices for services (choose a category) in a particular neighborhood.

As a lead-gathering strategy, you can start off by offering some of the content for free in your business guide, and a more complete version accessible by subscribing to a newsletter, where the visitor leaves their name and email to access the material.

5. Create a Fun Contest

Here’s a fun tip to generate more likes and comments on your social media: a contest is always a good way to generate some buzz on your online directory! Host a photo contest of the best dishes from advertised restaurants in your online business directory. Is your location a coastal city? Even better! Award the best photos of the beaches in your region. Create polls open to the public to choose the best services, food and stores in the region.

Offer prizes to winning advertisers such as upgrades to your ads or free plugins. The better the offer, the more people will engage and participate in the contest.

6. Create Memes

According to scientist Richard Dawkins, “a meme is an idea or information that is propagated and multiplied among individuals, similarly to what happens with the gene in genetics”. This may seem far from the concept of memes we see on the internet every day, but it’s exactly the same concept.

The power of Memes comes from the fact they are meant to be shared – it’s a content format with potential to reach thousands of people. You can take advantage of this format by creating fun images that fit your niche. Believe me, there is a whole audience of the most diverse segments that consume memes produced specifically for them such as pet owners, cooks, nutritionists, lawyers, dentists… In short, look for your niche and pay attention to internet trends.

7. Ebooks, Templates, and Podcasts

Other informative content formats that draw attention and build authority are ebooks, templates, and podcasts.

Ebooks can further deepen a topic and still explain clearly and objectively the topics covered, in addition to serving as a tool for capturing leads. Try to create different ebooks in pdf format of various topics around your niche. Pay attention to what your users are looking for and create files to address their pain points and collect more leads.

Document Templates, which help businesses save time and create a professional image, are great for attracting leads to your business directory. Create ready-made templates of customer engagement emails your advertisers might use, or landing pages, or other things that might help their business like spreadsheets to plan or budget.  Businesses will download and customize them to fit their needs, and along the way they learn about your site and may sign up to become a paying member.

Podcasts are also great for attracting an audience.  You can plan, record and distribute audio content on subject matters that may be of interest to your audience.

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How to Distribute Created Content

Create an email marketing strategy

Email marketing is one of the most effective inbound marketing strategies.

A survey showed that for every $1 you spend, you can expect a return on your investment of $51. It is said that the ROI for email marketing is a whopping 4400%, that’s just amazing and shows how well email marketing strategies can perform. Make sure to customize your emails to your user base (this is key), keep your audience engaged with news and deals when it is relevant. Be sure not to spam your sponsors with too many blasts per week.

Content Marketing Strategies For Online Business DirectoriesSource: sendinblue

Do you want to build loyalty with your audience and establish a connection with your online business directory? An email marketing strategy can help you.

After defining the aspects mentioned in the previous topic, think of ways to build your email list with the contacts of potential customers who might be interested in your listing.

For example, invite your readers to subscribe to a newsletter where you will share valuable content and practical tips to your customers, free of charge and with the frequency defined in your planning (weekly, fortnightly, monthly).

Use Social Media

Social media is an extremely powerful tool in marketing campaigns for one reason: your potential customers are there on a daily basis.

Therefore, using them as one of the means of distribution in your content marketing strategy for trade guides is indispensable.

The great benefit of this means of distribution is that you can be present in the channels that make the most sense for your strategy and you can develop content that will really connect and create valuable relationships between your online business directory and your audience, all of it in a more present and frequent way.

Then, analyze which channels make the most sense for your strategy, according to your persona and objectives defined in the planning phase, and thus start thinking about ways you can engage your audience in these media through content production.

As you may already know, you can create a presence on social networks such as:

  • LinkedIn;
  • Facebook;
  • Instagram;
  • Twitter;
  • Pinterest, among others.

Reuse your content across different channels and formats

Who says content has to have the same format forever? A great way to put content marketing for online business directories into practice is to reuse your content across different configurations and channels.

How does it work? Well, blog content can become a more detailed ebook that you will make available to your audience and in return, you will get a contact that can be reused at another time; a live broadcast can become a longer blog post; a video can become a dynamic and useful infographic, among others. You just need to know how to fit the content to another purpose!

Use the video content format in your strategies

Videos, as well as blog posts, are excellent content formats to explore. This becomes more relevant every day as users consume more and more audiovisual content.

Also, producing content in video format is a way to make your content more shareable and thus reach more people. You can even embed videos in some blog articles and further optimize their content.

Videos also appear in search results, such as on Google, and therefore, can be optimized to better rank your portal in the most used search platform in the world.

Make your content relevant to Google – Write with a focus on SEO

One of the pillars of content marketing is blog content written with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind.   Understand which keywords groups are relevant to the topics you are targeting, and write with them in mind.  This will help you become an authority in search engine result pages for those topics.

A great way to do this in 2021, according to Neil Patel’s website, is to produce smaller, niched content and use long-tail keywords to occupy the more specific search positions on Google.

Also, doing keyword research work in your niche and developing content around those terms remains extremely important to getting good results.

Conclusion

Content marketing is a great way to attract an audience to your directory site and make your site the authority on the subject matter, and with the techniques from this article it’s not difficult to get started.  Make a plan and a schedule to try different strategies, and build on the ones that are most successful.

And if you’re still looking for a platform that integrates everything you need to successfully launch your trading guide, schedule a free demo with us today and see how eDirectory can help you!

Start Your Online Directory

Revenue Strategies for Online Directories

Revenue Strategies for Online Directories (2)

Revenue Strategies for Online Directories can be different depending on your niche.

Creating an online directory brings a fantastic opportunity to generate a recurring revenue stream. From using the built-in payment tools that eDirectory provides to offering links to 3rd party affiliate products and services, opportunity abounds when it comes to monetizing your website!

One of the best ways to start generating revenue is if your online directory already has good content that people are consuming or looking for online. You could consider creating a members-only area on your website, similar to what newspapers do, allowing only subscribers to read or access your material. Invite writers to publish articles as guest bloggers, giving tips and recommendations on restaurants, wine, books, and movies, or other materials your audience could find valuable.

Another great way to make extra revenue out of your online directory is by advertising your newsletter. Send a curated list of the best or new services and products listed on your directory to your audience and sell the ad spots for your sponsors, therefore, their brand could be in the spotlight in front of a selected audience.

In this webinar, our CEO James Chubb shows the main methods of monetization used for businesses to generate revenue online.

Revenue Strategies for Online Directories

Online directories are one of the best media businesses out there because the production costs are low, and they gain traction on google rapidly because of the constant content generation (mostly user-created) and they are relatively quick to launch.

Have in mind that promotion takes an important role as you need to make your website visible to your audience. Invest some time to study paid media strategies (PPC) and SEO to generate more organic traffic into your online directory.

And of course, have in mind that the key is to keep your sponsors on board and attract new users. Recurring revenue is the way to make your online directory become profitable in the long run and eDirectory is built for that.

This session took place on August 18th, 2021.

Want more tips? Please send us a note at .

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Benefits of Creating a Niche Directory

Benefits of Creating a Niche Website Directory

Building a niche directory can prove to be a very profitable venture indeed! With dedicated focus, a niche website is easier to launch and quick to attract paying advertisers, build community members and become profitable faster than other types of directories.

A niche website can be based on a specific subject, industry or region. The secret behind this business model is knowledge of your niche and an understanding of your target advertisers and readers. Your website content needs to be viewed as useful to attract readership and your advertising plans need to create a solution to a perceived problem or challenge your advertisers may be facing.

Niche Directory Market Size

Rather than casting a huge national or global net trying to encompass anyone and everyone, niche websites allow you to focus your energies on one particular market and subject and do it well!

  • Start out small – walk before you run and allow yourself to make your mistakes when you’re small so that you can get organized for success as you eventually grow
  • Focus on a smaller market that will give you more precise targeting options and better chances to achieve greater ROI on your investments
  • Create important partnerships early on that will create more opportunities down the road

Niche Directory Identity

It’s very difficult to be all things to all people. Honing in on your brand voice and identity unique to your niche is key early on.

  • Position yourself as an expert here becoming a key resource to a select group
  • Once your identity has been realized, this will help make generating content more consistent
  • Building on authority breeds trust which will help with growing your credibility

Niche Directory Location

If you can, start in one specific location or region and then begin to expand your reach once you have a good handle on your new business and better understand the needs of your community.

  • Master your back yard first – prove the concept where it is easiest to relate, travel, or be more proactive
  • Niche prospects will be in a more definable location across the web as well, as subscribers and consumers of industry or trade publications, geographic areas, or online groups or communities are in one “place” since it is a niche, it is easier to get yourself noticed

By building a niche directory website, you become a one-stop shop for bringing your community together and growing your online directory revenue goals. Focus on adding value, curating your niche community, and listening to their feedback as it will help you reach your goals more quickly.

10 of Our Favorite SEO Tools

10 Favorite SEO Tools

Keeping track of your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) can be difficult enough without having to spend so much time compiling the data for your links, page/domain ranks, indexing status and more. Luckily there is an abundance of tools online to make sure your data is accurate and organized while saving you an abundance of time.

These tools are critical to your organic search strategy because they allow you to focus on the elements of your site that Google and other search engines deem important.

Here are 10 of our favorite SEO tools:

1) Google Webmaster Tools

Cost: Free

A no brainer, right? Google’s Webmaster Tools is probably the best way to understand the way Google sees your site and get insight into how your site will rank. The Tools include beginner-friendly resources and data that help to explain the fundamentals of Google search and give you a good base to start your SEO research.

Use the Tools to check on your number of pages indexed or use Google’s Fetch as Google tool that allows you to see a particular URL as Google sees it, which is critical when troubleshooting for poor SEO performance. Use the information it provides to modify any pages in question to improve results.

Another great feature of Google Webmaster Tools is PageSpeed Insights. This tool measures the speed of both your desktop and mobile site, which is valued by Google. The PageSpeed scores range from 0 to 100 and the higher the score the better.

2) Moz Pro Tools

Cost: Free 30-day trial, then plans from $99/mo – $599/mo

Moz Pro is an advanced all-in-one SEO tool that will help you track and improve your site’s rankings. Moz has a great set of research tools that enable subscribers to identify SEO opportunities, track links, examine social reach, identify errors, compare against competitors and optimize your overall efforts.

The Moz Pro dashboard will provide you with data on your search visibility, domain authority, site visits over time, keyword rankings, external links and more. There is also a Crawl Test tool that employ’s Moz’s own web crawler, nicknamed RogerBot, to analyze up to 3,000 links on a URL of your choice. Once completed, you will then receive an email report that details the data for each page the site links to. This is very useful to identify crawlability factors such as duplicate content and redirects that could be influencing your SEO performance.

3) Woorank

Cost: Free 14-day trial, then $49/mo for a Pro Plan or $149/mo for a Premium Plan

Woorank’s provides in-depth site analysis to help site owner find opportunities for improvement. This analysis is easy to understand and divided into eight sections: Marketing Checklist, SEO, Mobile, Usability,Technologies, Social, Local, and Visitors.

Such a wide range of information and insight makes it easy to always find new opportunities and discover areas for improvement with your site.

4) Check My Links

Cost: Free

Check My Links is a browser plugin that allows you to check if the links on your webpage are functional and working properly.

While checking for broken link it easy for anyone controlling a site to make corrections or double check before a page goes live. The tool will highlight all the good links in a green color, and those that are broken in a red color, which makes it easy to spot the ones that don’t work or are no longer active and need to be updated or removed.

5) SEO Report Card

Cost: Free

With SEO Report Card you can analyze your site to determine how well it stacks up against some chosen competitors.

The SEO Report Card will supply you the following:

  • Rank Analysis: A snapshot of how your website ranks on Google, Yahoo, and Bing! based on the keywords you provide.
  • Link Building: The number of websites that link back to your site.
  • On-Site Analysis: Tracks how well you have incorporated your main keyword throughout your site.
  • Website Accessibility: Data on your site’s speed and ease of accessibility for crawlers.
  • Trust Metrics: Information on your domain’s level of trust and authority.
  • Current Indexing: Data for how many of your site pages have been indexed.

6) HubSpot’s Website Grader

Cost: Free

HubSpot, the pioneers of inbound marketing, created the Website Grader. It is an online tool that creates personalized reports based on these areas:

  • Performance: Tracking your site’s page size, requests, speed, and more.
  • Mobile Readiness: A check to see if your website is mobile-friendly in terms of responsiveness and viewport settings.
  • SEO. Tracks data like page titles and meta descriptions to see how easily your site can be found on search engines.
  • Security. This checks on the SSL certificate as well as the overall trustworthiness and security of your domain.

Your website URL and an email address is all that you need to get started and they will then provide you with a score (1-100) as well as a detailed report.

7) Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Cost: The Screaming Frog SEO Spider LITE version is free and the paid plan is $160/year

The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a program that crawls the URLs of the domains you enter for common SEO issues. It saves a ton of time by compiling the data and examining all of the URLs for you.

The Java program is fairly intuitive, with easy-to-navigate tabs. Plus, you can export any or all of the data into Excel for further analysis.

8) Found’s SEO Audit Tool

Cost: Free

The SEO Audit Tool is a tool for site owners looking to identify and fix any SEO errors that may be on their website.

Simply enter your URL and receive an SEO audit with information for three main areas:

  • Technical issues: This looks for errors with things like domain canonicalization and XML sitemaps.
  • Content issues: This focuses on keywords and meta data for your site.
  • External link analysis: This evaluates the quantity and quality of your external links.

9) Varvy’s SEO Overview Tool

Cost: Free

This SEO auditing tool provides users with analysis for your domain strength, links, image SEO, social counts, page/technical SEO, page speed, and more.

The complete report dives fairly deep into different aspects of your website’s performance and provides colored indicators to help you identify any issues.

One of our favorite features is the detailed image overview. This section focuses on the images on your website by analyzing the alt text. It checks to see if you are using too many words, missing alt text, or if the alt text appears weak, the tool will notify you so that you can make any necessary changes.

10) Remove’em

Cost: $249 per domain or a subscription option starting at $99/mo

Artificial or unnatural links (such as purchased links and spammy content) can seriously damage your SEO and do harm to your search rankings. Remove’em is a tool to help you clean up any of these damaging links.

Remove’em will scan your backlink profile and create a list of contact information for the links and domains that you should reach out to have removed. Plus, you can also use the tool to export the list of links to have Google disavow them using this tool. (With this tool you can ask Google not to take them into account when assessing your site.)

How to Run Effective Social Media Campaigns in Under 30 Minutes a Day

social media campaigns

I know what you’re thinking, “I can waste 30 minutes to an hour on Facebook and Twitter without even thinking about it so how could I possibly run successful social media campaigns in less time than that?

The answer is simple if you focus on 3 key areas that will greatly reduce your time commitment and also bring results to your campaigns:

  1. Keyword Monitoring
  2. Scheduling Posts
  3. Create Twitter Lists

Keyword Monitoring

It’s important to keep track of two main areas when monitoring posts on social media:

  • Mentions of your brand
  • Posts including relevant keywords and phrases to your product or industry

To track the mentions of your brand you can set up e-mail notifications to help make sure you aware of any of these posts. Pair this with manual checks for each social platform individually to ensure you don’t miss anything and be sure to respond to these mentions accordingly. Interacting with your followers and being an open source of communication will always be beneficial.

For overall keyword monitoring, I would recommend using tools such as Mention or Hootsuite to track posts for the keywords you are interested in. This will help to organize your monitoring and save you the time of having to perform several individual searches manually. Try to be as targeted as possible with your keywords and set notifications for the ones that are most relevant to your site and the type of audience you are looking to reach. You can refine these keywords as you go and even target them geographically. After you have set up the initial search criteria, you will only need to do some minor tweaks from time to time. Be sure to share the posts that you find the most interesting and take note of interesting industry trends that may lead to new content for you in the future. Follow as many top influencers as you can and try to engage them in post sharing whenever possible.

Scheduling Posts

The next task that can save you a lot of time is to schedule your posts ahead of time. Hootsuite along with Buffer are great tools for doing this. At the beginning of a week or month you can set a schedule to be sent out at optimal days and times. It is a good practice to take some of your better performing post you have sent previously and resend them out with a mix of new ones. You should also make sure to not be sending too many self-promoting posts, your followers won’t appreciate this. Send out interesting articles and links to other sites to ensure you are a good user to follow and not just a link spammer.

By setting a schedule at the beginning of week or month you ensure that you will have a steady flow of content going out on a regular basis and you can check back in with your social accounts when needed or if you have some extra time here or there.

Create Twitter Lists

A great way to better organize your social media accounts and save you some time is to create Twitter lists that separate the most influential users in your industry, or the accounts that share the best content. Use these lists to ensure you only see posts from the top accounts that you follow, maybe the top 50 instead of all 500 of the users you follow.

If you can narrow these lists down to small enough groups of essential sources, you’ll be able to scan through each list very quickly and locate the most relevant content from each list. You can now retweet, share and mention these top users in a shorter amount of time and get more effective results.

Conclusion

After implementing these 3 items you can now check your mentions and top keywords, have a consistent stream of daily content going out and quickly browse your top users and most relevant content in 30 minutes or less or day.

Always keep in mind that it’s important to stay SOCIAL on your social media accounts, meaning you should always be communicating, sharing and engaging with people online. Have fun with it and use it to your advantage 🙂

How to Price Listings, Banners and More for a Directory Site

We received an interesting question inquiring as to what was the best way to price listings, banners and more for a directory site.

First, there is no one correct way to price your listings and there’s no one standard or uniform equation to pricing out your listings.

In our experience, having dealt with hundreds of clients and also having experience in the publishing industry, your pricing model should be competitive to your market specifically. The price of a diamond level listing on a biotech or pharmaceutical directory where sponsors include multi billion dollar companies like Amgen or Genentech is going to be drastically different than a diamond level listing on a local search site in Billings, Montana (no offense Montana).

Look at the advertisers you’re looking to attract and find out where they are advertising.

These are likely your direct or somewhat direct competitors. They’ve set a market rate for these businesses and established a standard upon which they’re used to paying. This is your best guide to determining the right pricing model for your site.

One thing to keep in mind are the differences in print and online competitors. A 1/2 page ad in a print publication that boasts a circulation of 15,000 is drastically different than a 728×89 leaderboard with 15,000 impressions.

One thing we encourage all of our clients to do is to focus on maintaining the value of your sponsorships. Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re working on bringing in a new client and quote them $100 a month for a featured (diamond) listing. At that time, maybe you’re getting 10,000 page views a month on your site. $10 CPM isn’t that bad. Now let’s say 6 months down the road he comes back to you to purchase the advertising — or perhaps even renew his existing contract with you. The price he last saw was $100 a month for 10,000 page views.

Now your site has reached 30,000 page views and you’re charging $200. You’ve tripled the traffic to your site and only doubled the cost of your sponsorship and your CPM is down to $6.66. At the end of the day, you’ve created a more cost effective advertising vehicle for your sponsor, but him justifying a 2x increase in ad spend from what it was last time can be very difficult, despite the substantial increase in audience size. So what to do in these situations?

Price your ad units at competitive or slightly above competitive lines out of the gate. If you had come in at a $200 price point with 10,000 pageviews ($20CPM), it may be a little steep, but you can ALWAYS have value ads in the deal with your advertiser, such as buy 4 months and get a 5th free to make the cost sting a little less. This way, your sponsorships (listings, banners, etc) maintain their value ($200 a month) and you don’t have to worry about constantly increasing your costs to reflect the growth in your site traffic.

Many marketers can understand and justify the price increase above, but in many cases, when you’re running a local search site, you’re not dealing with savvy marketers, you’re dealing with small business owners who are trying to keep their operational costs to a minimum. Some things to remind them of when trying to reinforce the value of your site’s sponsorships:

  • Guaranteed impressions – In their print publication, they’re sold a circulation number, but this by no means reflects how many people actually read the publication or saw your ad for that matter.
  • Relevance  Use Analytics information (search terms, time on site) to SHOW your advertiser that people come to your site to FIND businesses like theirs.
  • Reporting – Provide your advertiser with a detailed report on how many page views their ad got, how long the average visitor stayed on the site, what they were searching for when they came to the site, how many people clicked on their listing, redeemed a deal, etc.

Questions? Comments? Thoughts? Leave them in the comments section or email marketing@edirectory.com

The Importance of Great Web Design

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People are going to make snap judgments. Within the first few seconds of viewing a new site, visitors will make up their mind as to whether they are going to stay and look around or head elsewhere.

This is why it is so important to get to your design right for your website. Paired with great content and engaging copy, a good-looking site with a clean design will draw new visitors in and keep them interested in what you have to say.

Your Website Defines You

How a site looks and feels will define how the visitor perceives your business and the brand as a whole. A visitor will make assumptions about the amount of success, level of expertise and overall personality of the brand based on how the site looks to them visually.

If your web site looks modern, sharp and professional, your potential clients will think you run a modern, well-organized and professional business. On the other hand, if potential clients visit your site and think it looks outdated and cheap, then that’s exactly how they’ll perceive your business as well.

This is an opportunity to cultivate a brand identity that commands respect and trust amongst potential new clients. Perception is everything, so make sure you have a clear idea of what you want your brand to stand for and make sure your site portrays that.

Navigation

The navigation of a website is a key element of its design, this is especially true for websites packed with many pages (such as online directories!). Website navigation typically includes a navigation bar and the various other page links that differentiate the sections of the website.

Good navigation should be simple, clean and inviting. It should be very intuitive and require little thought for someone to understand how to make their way around the site and find what they are looking for. This is typically achieved their proper spacing, great-looking graphics and clean, concise copy throughout the design.

High Resolution

Speaking of great-looking photos, advancements in digital photography and the screen resolution of computers, laptops and mobile devices provides website owners with a great opportunity to display some stunning images. Many of the most popular trends in current web design themes include the use of prominent, high-resolution photos or graphics that help to provide an impressive accent.

A single image can be used to define your site and your brand. The proper image can portray ambition, excellence, beauty, excitement or stature in ways that are difficult for the written word to achieve.

Content

Your content is the backbone of your site, especially for directory sites. How this content is presented can be equally as important. Good-looking design that invokes thoughts of expertise and knowledge will help your site and your brand achieve a high level of respect and trust.

This is how a site with a great visual design can command attention and provide confidence to its visitors that this is the content they have been looking for.

Looking for great web design on your directory site? Give us a call at 1-703-914-0770 or email sales@edirectory.com

9 Ways to Drive Directory App Downloads

9 Ways to Drive Directory App DownloadsBusiness_Listings_with_eDirectory

So you have a great looking directory app for your business with a ton of powerful features. The issue now is that you need to get users to actually download and install your app so you can start taking advantage of its capabilities.

Here are 9 ways to help drive downloads and get more people using your mobile app:

  1. Offer Something for Free

People always love getting something for free and you can use this to help drive downloads of your app. Offer something for free from your store or business that is inexpensive and doesn’t put you out too much, such as a small fountain drink, a bag of golf tees, a small cookie or similar. Offer it to customers who show you they have downloaded and installed your app. Continue with this strategy until you have an adequate amount of app users.

  1. Screenshots, Descriptions and Icons

Quality screenshots and icons are essential to the promotion of your app. It is the best way to showcase your app and make it appealing to potential users. Make sure to start with a solid library of high-resolution images and icons that you can use for marketing materials and advertising your app to potential users.

  1. Promote it on Your Website

One of the simplest ways to get user’s to notice your mobile app is to use the medium that you already control, your website. Use this space to create and display some visually appealing graphics that promote and describe your mobile app and the benefits that will be available to your users. You can use write some promotional copy such as “Receive exclusive offers through our new mobile app!” or “Be the first to hear about upcoming events from our mobile app.”

Be sure to provide links to download the app from the app stores to make it as quick and easy as possible for people to view the details of your app and download it to their accounts.

  1. Handing Out Cards for Your App

Another easy strategy is to create some simple cards, notes, buttons or fliers that include instructions on how to download your app. Keep them in your business and hand them out to anyone who stops in or walks by. Include the name of the app and tell them the best search term to enter into the app store to easily find and download the app.

  1. Social Media

Work to build a following and build up some momentum on all the relevant social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Follow media members who carry influence in your specific industry or would be followed by potential customers for you business. Send out posts, links and images for you app to build up some interest and further share the app features that your users will benefit from.

  1. App Store Optimization

App Store optimization is a method of finding good keywords that people might search for and making sure to put them either in your app title, description or keywords for your app listing. If you already have users downloading your app, reach out to them and ask how they discovered your app, and if that was on the app store, which keywords they searched. Be sure to include all relevant keywords and phrases associated with this feedback and further build on them.

  1. Localize your Description and Keywords

Take #6 even a little bit further and look for ways to localize your description and keywords. If you app or business mainly serves a local or regional area then be sure to include keywords and phrases that call out this specific location. Example: “san jose shoe store” or “morris county delivery service”. This will help to increase the amount of relevant app users who can take advantage of a localized app.

  1. Trade a Download for a Service 

If your business does not have items it can give away for free (#1), then maybe you can trade a download for a service. Such as a salon offering a 15-minute massage in exchange for a download, or a cleaning service offering 10% off your next appointment after you download the app. Use what resources you have available to offer some value in exchange for an app download. 

  1. Mobile-Only Discounts

A key strategy to promoting your app to potential users is to be able to communicate the value they receive if they have the app. One of the best ways to detail this is to offer mobile-only promotions through coupons, deals or loyalty cards that can only be received and used through your mobile app. Post these promotions online or in your business for customers to see and add a tagline such as “Available to Mobile App Users Only” or something similar so they know to download your app right away to gain access to these deals.

Looking to a build an online directory with a mobile app or in need of adding one to your current directory? Send an email to: sales@edirectory.com


Interested in creating mobile apps for all kinds of business types? Looking for features that drive business, like mobile coupons, custom loyalty cards and more? Check out the new www.lumeapps.com or call 1-703-914-0770 to learn how you can start building mobile apps that people will love.

Lume_Apps_-_Mobile_App_Builder__Build_Custom_Apps_for_Apple_and_Android

Why Advertisers Love Directory Websites

directory advertisersThe last several years have seen a growing shift of advertising dollars leaving the more traditional mediums of print media and moving to various areas online. Within this realm it can still be a challenge for advertisers to sift through the expanses of the internet and find the best places to spend their money online. This is where online directories have been able to gain a solid foothold in the market. Most modern advertisers see directories websites as an attractive option, the two main reasons for this are fairly simple: highly targeted audiences and easily measurable ROI.

Highly Targeted Audiences

With common uses including local search sites, product directories, membership guides, and yellow page sites online directories by nature are highly focused sites. They typically have a common focus by geographical location, industry, subject matter or all of the above. This format tends to bring people together, typically very like-minded groups of people who share the same interests and habits. This provides the ideal landscape for potential marketers and advertisers who are looking to reach a very specific type of audience to get their ads in front of.

Think Niche

Many niche businesses and industries have benefited through the use of online directories. They have made it easy to build sites with focused subject matter and relevant listings and pair them with a blog or set of articles and social media posts that are all related to a very specific industry or niche.

No longer would you need to read a national golf publication to find the best local courses and instructors in your area, instead you could a find local site like LakeNonaGolfDirectory.com and be able to quickly find golf course and instructors right in the area of Lake Nona. This level of targeting is beneficial for both the user and for potential advertisers. From the advertisers perspective they would be able to know that any ads listed on this directory site would be targeting a predominantly male audience between the ages of 35-55, who live in the Lake Nona area and are interested in golf. Gaining access to this highly targeted audience is something that many would be willing to spend their advertising dollars on.

Additionally, platforms such as eDirectory utilize a search feature. This can help potential sponsors to know exactly what keywords and phrases site visitors are searching for and which ones they would like to pay to be found under.

Let’s see an example:

There is an online directory site for Los Angeles area salons. Right off the bat, advertisers would already know that these site visitors are from or near the Los Angeles area and that they are interested in things that a salon can offer, such as beauty products, hair styling, make up, manicures, pedicures and more. Taking it one step further, the directory site owner can share with potential advertisers that the most frequently searched term on their site is “gel manicures”. This can provide a perfect opportunity for a local Los Angeles based salon to post ads related to their gel manicure pricing options and upcoming specials. Plus they could pay for a Premium listing on this directory and make sure they include “gel manicures” as primary keywords in the settings for their listing, ensuring they would show up during searches of this term.

Measurable ROI img-newsletter-how-to-monetize-3 As a marketer, web banners, sponsored content, and email newsletter sponsorships provide keen insight into the success of promotional messages, advertising offers and how responsive a given audience is to that message and offer. These are key factors for marketers and advertisers to be able to gauge their success and determine whether they find their spending to be worthwhile and something they will continue to invest in. A lack of such data can be nerve-wracking at best for an advertiser and lead to rash, uninformed decisions being made.

Luckily, this data is easily attainable through online directory site analytics and reporting, plus pairing your site with platforms like Google Analytics and Saleforce can provide an even higher level of insight. This nformation will provide a directory site owner with valuable selling points that can be shared with potential advertisers to portray the potential for success and gaining a favorable return on investment (ROI) from their ad.

How many people see the ads? How many people clicked on them? Of those people, how many people visited the ad’s website? Which pages did they click on when they were there and at what point did they abandon the site? How many people opened the email, how many people that opened that email came to the company’s site, or furthermore, how many people made a purchase because of that ad? The ways to break down and dissect the numbers into cost per lead, cost per conversion, cost per click—they’re all limitless.

Here is a good article by Forbes about the 10 Online Marketing Metrics You Need to Be Measuring. As a directory site owner, one can use these metrics to not only learn from the data and improve their site but also to gain insight on their site users and gather information that can be shared to help sway potential advertisers and sponsors to become involved with the site.

Interested in developing a profitable directory? Want to discuss ideas about how to better monetize your existing site? Send an email to: marketing@edirectory.com