Directory Decisions

By Derek Taylor | May 1, 2006 | Home | Blog Categories | Articles

DecisionsYou’ve registered that perfect directory domain name. You’ve downloaded your PHP Link Directory script. You have a beautiful web design. Submissions will come pouring in by the thousands and everyone will be touting you as the next DMOZ. But wait! It can’t be that simple, can it? In fact, it isn’t that simple. There are many things that new directory owners fail to take into consideration when starting out.

Free or Paid

Should my directory be free or paid? Most of the time, the new directory owner will already have decided whether their site will be free or paid, but many make the decision with no real thought into what that decision means. There is no right or wrong answer, but there are pros and cons to each.

Free directories get a lot of submissions daily. If well promoted, they could receive hundreds of new submissions daily. That can quickly become unmanageable for a one-man operation. Free directories are magnets for spam. You start receiving such large amounts of submissions because so many are porn, gambling, pill sites, made-for-ads, affiliates, and other undesirable submissions. You will be working countless hours reviewing your submissions and will be rejecting most of them. The ones that are listable will usually require your time to edit/add an appropriate title or description. Did I mention that you are not getting paid anything to put in all these work hours?

The Internet is littered with ‘dead’ free directories that seem to never get around to accepting any submissions. Why? Most of these sites probably just involved more work than their owners ever imagined.

Paid directories are really quite the opposite of free ones. There are very few submissions to review. This is both a pro and a con. Less work is a great, but your site isn’t growing very fast either. Most of what is submitted to paid directories isn’t spammy, and you get a little money for the bit of work you do. If you do decide to offer paid listings, you should very plainly state all terms and conditions of listing, payment, and refunds, on your website.

Most web directories start out as free at first. Then as the directory gets a good amount of listings they switch over to paid. Other directories offer both free and paid options, but you should be careful if you decide to go this route. Make sure you still spend some time reviewing free submissions if you offer them. There are many free and paid directories on the web that seem to only list paid submissions for some reason. This isn’t very professional and people do notice these things.


First of all, your directory must include a good number of categories. How many? I would suggest that you take the time to setup at least a couple hundred categories in the beginning. If possible maybe setup even more. I know, that sounds like a lot, but trust me. It isn’t. It is a lot of work at first, but it saves so much time later. People that submit to directories want their link on a page with as few other listings as possible, so offering just a few broad categories like Internet or Shopping will not do. Plus, your new directory will grow quickly and you will soon find that that Shopping category no has hundreds of listings in it now. So you decide you will add a bunch of subcategories and place all those listings in the best subcat, so now you have to re-review all those sites to place them in those new subcategories you created. See how much extra work this would be? It’s always best to start out with too many categories than not nearly enough. If you end up with a lot of empty categories, fill them up with listings yourself.


How do I get the word out about my new directory? There are many, many places on the Internet where you can advertise your directory services. How about an obvious one such as submitting to directories, both free and paid? Purchasing text links and banner ads is another option. PPC campaigns such as Google AdWords may be something to check out. Also check out the following resources that could get you quite a bit of traffic:


Directory Lists:

NOTE: The above is just a small sample of available resources to promote your directory.

Approval Time

This is really straightforward. If you are a well-established directory offering free submissions, then it understandable that it may take a few weeks to get listed. This is not ideal, of course, but most submitters will understand. If it is taking more than two months for sites to get a review, then something needs to change. Either you should put in more work yourself in reviewing submitted sites, hire more help, or quit offering free submissions temporarily to catch up on your backlog.

With paid directories, huge backlogs of submissions are never the kind of problem that they are with free ones. If you offer paid listings, there really is no excuse in taking more than a couple days to list a site. No exceptions!

Being Professional

To succeed in business you need to be regarded as professional. You should act honestly and ethically in all your business dealings. Obviously things such as lying, deception, spamming, scamming, and selling personal information of your users are no-no’s.

Also, in business, as well as in life, the Golden Rule is the one to live by. Treat others only as you consent to being treated in the same situation. You will receive emails and/or phone calls from people with complaints about your services. Some, if not most, of them will be frivolous complaints such as things beyond your control, or the user failing to follow all your terms and conditions. No matter what the situation, try to remember the Golden Rule. In other words, be nice.
Another must is to include contact information on your directory. Make sure that your users can contact you anytime they have a question or concern, especially if offering paid submissions. Potential buyers will not purchase a listing on a site that seems shady because it doesn’t even list a contact email, phone, or snail-mail address.


The new directory owner will learn by trial and error. Try to soak in as much information from other directory owners as possible, but remember that what works for one may not work so well for another. Building a directory can be challenging. The main thing is to have fun in what you are doing. If so, then you are already a success.

About the Author:

Derek Taylor is the owner and operator of several directories proudly running the PHP Link Directory script, including UnaDir and Qettle.

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Publish date: May 1, 2006
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