This is a much more feasible plan than a general type directory. If you do want to make a more general directory, choose your categories carefully and do a very good job rather than being open to any sort of link. And if you focus on a niche you will probably find it is much easier and faster to develop a well rounded directory. Moreover, targeting a niche can mean you can more easily market to a specific group (Also see Katamari Technique).
Niche Targeting Strategies
There are thousands if not millions of communities across the web. The first thing you want to do is choose a theme or topic matter. Let’s go through some real examples:
1. You create a directory of web hosts categorized into categories like Budget, Reseller, Cloud, VPS and Dedicated. You add some affiliate banners to your directory (no follow). You then find some places where people are talking about web hosting. There are forums like webhostingtalk.com, webhostingforum.com and many others. You regularly participate in the forums with a link in your signature. You continue adding quality resources and try to become a respected expert in the area. You are not a “freeloader” hanging out for the signature link! You are developing a great resource while helping other people.
2. You organize a site around something contentious like politics. There are so many facebook groups, blogs and even forums around the web where you can talk about politics. You can create Links of the Day. You can highlight articles that are pertinent current events. You can not only include links but create your own articles too, as well as embed videos. It will take work, but if you hang out in the same places long enough, you’ll find it pretty easy to get people interested in the resource you are building and even get them involved too. Consider allowing comments. And of course a few months from now the election season will be heating up and you will be in a great spot.
3. Or pick something even more specific like Survivalists. Some people predict an economic or government collapse, and they are stocking up on supplies, building shelters, and everything they need to get ready. Why not create a directory that covers gear, building shelters, weapons, storing food, etc. Then you’ll find once again there are forums, facebook groups and blogs where you can participate, build a reputation and get people coming to your site.
You have to pick something that will interest you too. Think about what the directory will be like in 2 years, not 2 weeks. Think about the places you will participate and how you will get more and more people who have heard of your resource. Participating regularly in a niche can go a long way. It takes time but once you have carved out your area, those who follow will have a lot of catching up to do!
Here is a tutorial about converting an old, static HTML site over to phpLD. In this video we do it in about 5 minutes, giving it a new look and having the wonderful dynamic capabilities in phpLD like movable widgets, easy content creation, easy to change nav bar, etc.
It’s really great to see a directory that really stands on its own as a great resource that can help many people. So often you see directories that are so focused on Google that they forget about the users of their directory!
So here is a directory that is both a wonderful resource, and also happens to get a lot of traffic from searchers as well. That is because they have worked hard to make it a great site. A few months ago the Free Site wanted to upgrade their site and use phpLD to run it, and here is a testimonial.
My site, TheFreeSite.com, is one of the Web's largest resources for free stuff, and features everything from free product samples to games to family offers to freebies for Webmasters and free software. In 2013, my site was in need of a major top-to-bottom overhaul. After reviewing various directory scripts, we decided on phpLD. The new directory is a pleasure to use. It is speedy and efficient and it handles my content and new layouts perfectly. phpLD offers all the features I need to efficiently manage my site.
We are proud to have The Free Site as one of our customers, demonstrating what a directory can be using phpLD!
When you spend enough time thinking about what people want and then work hard to make a valuable resource, great benefits await! Sure, it takes a lot of consistent work over a period of time, but slowly the benefits of more traffic and new ways to create revenue make it all worth it.
Ricky's Templates has just released a new Responsive template for phpLD. It is a premium template and at the time of this writing sells for $25. What's great about this template is it automatically resizes and rearranges page elements so it will look good on PCs, laptops, tablets and phones. Check it out!
Just like oil or gold, links are a commodity that have increasingly been sold on the open market. They are priced based on varying criteria including the Google PageRank, authority of the site, expected traffic, and expected benefit in search engines. We may have reached a "bubble bursting" moment.
In the earlier days of the internet, search engines followed links but used other criteria for ranking sites. But even in those days, a site with more links pointing to it tended to have more traffic. Directories played a significant role in helping to organize and categorize links to millions of documents.
Search engines like Google used this data to build their own link library. Because directory data was a data source, Google recommended that people submit their site to directories including Yahoo and DMOZ. This helped Google find the sites and include them in their index.
However, there were shortcomings to this because often DMOZ editors were slow to review submissions and Yahoo started to charge $200+ to even have the opportunity to have your site reviewed. As a result, many other directories started to come online.
SEO firms found that submitting to directories was a very worthwhile service because it helped get sites listed in search engines, and helped them to rank higher for the anchor text used in the link title on the directory. As the clients of these SEO firms were happy with the results, there was increasing investment in directory submission. Even large corporations invested in link submissions. Quite simply, submitting to directories was a basic ingredient in nearly any SEO program. For example, likely the largest SEO firm in India (for a time) included directory submission in their link building.
But in time cracks started to appear...
There was a huge rise in link building services. SEO firms turned to low cost labor to submit sites to thousands of directories at a time. It was not uncommon to see people working for less than $2/hour building links. The quality started to suffer.
No longer did we have the traditional directory that was well edited that only accepted quality sites. There were directories popping up all over the net, and the business model went something like this:
Get high pagerank link pointing to the site
Setup a directory script
Sell links in the directory for a premium
In many of the directories following this model, virtually any link was accepted so long as they paid for a link. Calls for following quality guidelines fell on seemingly deaf ears.
One of the reasons people were oblivious to quality is these sites were making massive profits. If someone could achieve a pagerank 6 or 7 for their directory, even if they bought that pagerank in some way, it was not uncommon to see the sites make thousands of dollars per month. Some people were making 6 figures per year.
And then the hammer dropped...
Just as Google first charmed and espoused the benefits of submitting to Yahoo and DMOZ, a time followed where Google depreciated the benefit in their algorithm for those directories. Google did the same thing for many other directories. Generally speaking, many different link building practices including blog commenting, guest posting, forum signature links, profile links, press releases, and directory links were depreciated in the Google algorithm.
And let’s be clear: These practices worked for many years very well regardless of one’s judgment on the quality of these strategies.
Even before the hammer dropped, it was evident that link spamming all over the net was reaching a bubble status that was not maintainable. It had to happen sooner or later. There are still a few people who are successfully selling their link building, but the benefit is not the same and most likely the customers are getting ripped off. One likely example of this is the directory hacker network.
The Bubble has Burst
It’s pretty evident the bubble has burst so to speak. What we should see in the coming months is a decrease in the number of players in the market that are involved in these low quality link building strategies. There is a fear in the market that people will have their sites subjected to an unnatural linking penalty. It’s going to take a little time to work itself out.
There is also some uncertainty about Google itself. It is a corporation funded by shareholders who expect profits in the short term. Increasingly we see search engine results pages littered with ads, and the organic results are almost a side show to the ads (depending on the search).
So what now?
If we view this “bubble bursting” similar to other market crashes, things hit bottom and then start to rise again. Often the players who got in near the market bottom with a new strategy for the new reality created by the bubble bursting are the ones that profit the most.
To decide what to do now, maybe some questions are in order:
With the rise of big data, might smaller players be able to harness larger data sets without incurring a large expense? (ex. DuckDuckGo)
Now that Facebook gets nearly as much traffic as Google, might directories be able to benefit from integration with the Facebook Graph and other tools?
Has the nature of the link changed where directories need to think about linking to what is important NOW versus being an old catalog. For example, sites like Business Insider, Pop URLs and Huffington Post in many ways harness the “power of the now”.
Might there be other types of data that can be categorized and organized beyond the traditional link? For example, coupon sites are big and there are a few successful phpLD users that use our script for that purpose. Other examples might include videos, images or feeds.
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