Keys To Creating A Successful Niche Directory


By David | May 13, 2009 | Home | Blog Categories | Articles

finding your nicheWe have all encountered a similar problem. While searching for information on a specific topic, we have difficulty finding good information. Top search results on Google point to old and marginally useful sites. Painfully you search through your bookmarked sites looking for the desired information. Looking up at the clock, being disgusted with another wasted hour searching the internet, a light bulb starts to glimmer. Why don’t I provide the structure to make my searches easier, and make it available to others on the internet?

Within a few weeks or months, a new niche directory has been born. After adding in links to sites you are familiar with and use, you realize you have 100 links in your directory. How do you create a successful directory from here? I am defining success as creating a useful resource, once you have a useful resource, you will slowly build up traffic and potential income.

Keys:

#1 – See A Need, Fill A Need – If the narrative above describes how you got into the directory business, then you have already seen a need. MeepleSearch was created as a personal resource that I am developing as a result of my game publishing needs. When I decided to start publishing I could find little to no useful resources. Who were potential manufacturers, graphic designers, distributors, fulfillment agencies, retailers, customers? Additionally, how would I go about reaching them? After several months of hard work, I found the answers to many of those questions. After continued work, and attending a game industry convention I found additional resources. Of course the answers I found created more questions. Not only would the directory help others thinking about going down my path, it would help others in the industry, and create a method for various resources to make themselves known to me. I would no longer have to search them out, they would be able to find me.

#2 – Make The Lives Of Others Easier – It took me several months and attending conventions to build my resource list, which is still smaller than I would like. Anybody who comes to MeepleSearch can utilize the resources free of charge.

#3 – Provide Resources That You Find Useful – If you would find something particularly useful, then the chance is that your target audience will also find it useful. For Example, I personally find it difficult to keep track of the various gaming conventions across the United States. I am very interested to know about what gaming conventions are local to me, therefore gaming conventions is a category containing U.S. state subcategories.

#4 – Provide resources that link submitters would find useful – On MeepleSearch, we have a section devoted to game retailers. Any retailer with a website can submit their information including phone and address. We then provide a link to their website along with the phone number and a Google map of the retailer’s location. Retailers are looking to make money, give them a reason to promote and use your directory. Having their business information listed is such an incentive.

#5 – Solicit Unique Articles – Solicit unique articles from webmasters, reviewers, and bloggers that have credibility. This will be difficult at first, because a low traffic and low page rank directory will have little to offer. If you send out friendly emails to qualified individuals, you will receive some response. The response that you do receive may be from people in your same position, they are looking for traffic. When you get people who do respond, treat them right. Review their article promptly and post it with proper credit. Do something nice for them, provide them with a free featured link for a couple of months. People who like you are more likely to link to your site, which will make your life much easier.

#7 – Create Unique Articles – Create unique articles for topics that you are qualified to write about. Soon I plan on posting articles to MeepleSearch about my game publishing experiences thus far. For example, one that I am planning on writing is about U.S. vs. foreign manufacturing. I have solicited quotes in the U.S., Germany, and China. I have opinions on the benefits and difficulties with each, and can discuss them in detail. My opinions on the subject are not set in stone, and the process of writing the article will help me. Write for the audience, but make sure you write something that is also useful for yourself.

#8 – Aggregate and Re-Publish Your Links – The nature of a directory will lend itself to linking to many blogs and podcasts. The greatest thing about the current internet age is RSS Feeds and Syndication. Blogs and podcasts gain success because it is easy to aggregate and receive updates. Take the feeds from various blogs/podcasts that you link to and aggregate them into one larger feed. I will use FeedWeaver to aggregate my feeds. You can then republish the feed. For the sake of reducing the possible spammy nature of this, have your blogs in very detailed and specific categories. Use something like feedburner to control a tag line pointing back to your directory.

#9 – Create a Search Engine – Since you have created a directory which you trust, create a search engine that uses the directory as the main authority source. For MeepleSearch I plan on having a search engine built that searches the sites that are linked to from MeepleSearch and the sites that are pointed to from those sites. Any website that is within 2 links of MeepleSearch will be indexed. Provide code for others to place search boxes on their own websites. There is a possibility for future ad revenue and/or revenue sharing. See if you can partner with a huge site in your niche while providing them with a large revenue share. As much as 70% does not seem unreasonable to me. They will want to get paid in exchange for accelerating the growth of your site.

#10 – Keep Working At It – Devote a small amount of time each day to working on the directory. Expand your categories, solicit articles, comment in forums, improve upon the template/script, think about more services to add, and you will be eventually successful.

Do not spam your users. Keep advertisements elegant, integrated, and unobtrusive. Keep submissions to your directory free until it becomes an authoritative and powerful resource. Do not try charging people for something they feel will only be marginally useful. Write down your pie-in-the-sky ideas, and ask around for the costs to implement them. I thought a Search Engine for MeepleSearch would be expensive to implement, but found that it to be quite reasonable. Collect opt-in email addresses to provide updates on new articles, new features, and a monthly digest of new links. Get feedback from your users, you never know where you will get a suggestion for that killer new feature that will bring you to new internet fortune and fame.

By : Michael Mindes



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Publish date: May 13, 2009
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