The Need to Seed your Directory

By David | March 2, 2013 | Home | Blog Categories | Articles

Need to SeedI feel the need, the need to seed

This line paraphrased from Top Gun, where it is invoked by Tom Cruise's Maverick, was a classic full of poise, passion and purpose! That's the same vein in which you should think about seeding.

I wanted to continue to discuss one of the major elements in my article about what it means to be human, namely
seeding, which is one of the key components of building a solid foundation to your directory. This strategy is also covered in our web directory FAQ where the recommendation is made that including non-submitted websites to a directory is just good editorial practice.

As the name implies, seeding is the activity of planting a seed now (in this case good content) such that it will bear fruit later on. It is in essence a plan for the future. Seeding a directory doesn't just make common sense; it makes content sense. The whole idea behind seeding is to give pages a content foundation from which to flourish into a useful resource. If you start with an empty page and accept submissions, a page can look lost very quickly.

The mistake nearly all directory owners make when starting out is to rush out and fill their directory with whatever they find, OR to accept every half-decent looking submission that comes their way. What they end up building is a directory stuffed with low-to-mediocre quality websites, and that serves very little purpose to anyone. In the case of serious directories, and in particular niche directories where you have an area of expertise, a far better idea to adopt, is a slow methodical build based on including only the best sites in your field to seed a category before you start bringing in other resources. In that way, you are providing a useful resource for your visitors, from the very beginning. Correct seeding will not only ensure that your categories remain comprehensive, but will also justify their existence and in many cases garner respect within communities that choose to use them.

What a directory owner should always be thinking about when including content is the long-term value of their resource. Build smartly and slowly and over time you will generate something very worthwhile. This is the whole idea behind seeding. Plant the seed now, so that overtime it grows into a worthwhile endeavour.

Most directory owners skip seeding deeming it a waste of their valuable time, and they go straight into the heavy artillery promotion of their empty resource. What they then get is a lot of low value submissions from people seeking to gain early and easy entry. These become their seeds, and what they end up planting is crap. So when it grows that's what they are left with, crap. No one values their directory, not even themselves, because it was not built with the poise, passion, purpose that initial seeding brings. It is then abandoned, and becomes a worthless waste of everyone's time.

When you create something useful, you value it. When you value it, and treat it with respect, so do others. If you put up 10 empty directories and just say "come and get it", are you really respecting those directories you created? Will anyone else? The best directories are useful tomes that create a plethora of useful content populated by great websites.

If you decide to start a directory, one of the things you must do is seed. If a category sits there empty, isn't it useless? So if you grabbed a category dump and it remains empty, isn’t your entire directory useless?

Directory owners think that they need to heavily spruik their resources from the outset. But they should be going the other way and only using submissions as a means of complementing the content that already exists in their resource. Submissions shouldn’t be the sole contributor to a directory’s content. If you already have 5 to 10 great listings for a category that you seeded yourself, then maybe you only need another 5 to 10 more for that category to flesh it out. Maybe then you need to categorise further - which is another discussion altogether.

Example of Bad Seeding:
I see a lot of directory owners announcing their directories on forums soliciting submissions. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, we encourage it at our own forums. However, you need to be discerning with those submissions. Where I see these directory owners fail is in including a large amount of low-to-medium quality web directories in their own resource, and very little else (perhaps the odd real estate or software listing). This is a poor way to seed as it lop-sides the category with low value resources and leaves the rest of the directory’s categories mostly empty. Any directory that does that has started off on the wrong foot.

So how do you seed?
There is a useful how to seed video done by drwebs, who runs the SecWh directory, that explains how he goes about simple seeding of categories. His methodology is to work smarter not harder - bring in a lot of the good resources quickly and then edit them to your own directory standards and quirks so they become a suitable seed for your content.

The key steps to good seeding are:
- plant a great foundation for your directory with categories containing good websites.
- build on this foundation by accepting submissions that complement your own seeded resources.
- gain greater indexation of your directory since all categories contain useful content.
- save time, since less categories containing more established resources equals less maintenance.
- increase the value of your directory as it becomes a worthwhile resource - because you love and respect it, so too will others.

To summarise:
If you seed your categories with good quality content, well edited by yourself, then you generate the standard for others to follow when submitting to your directory. Sites that want a listing will see what you have listed and measure their worth against your own content. If you have great sites listed, and they have a good site they will endeavour to gain a listing alongside good company. If you have crap listings, and you are missing the top names, because you didn't seed, then good submitters could elude you and go elsewhere for a far better neighbourhood. Sounds snobby? It is!

Remember that a seeded directory is a loved directory! And a loved directory becomes a valuable brand name that everyone will want to be listed in.

Thanks to Dan or Vilesilencer for another great study of what make a great directory!

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Publish date: March 2, 2013
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