All there is to know about building a directory, and how I built mine in less then 6 months
Hi and welcome. If you find yourself here, that means you want to build a directory, and you are probably very new to all kind of things like html, php, SEO and related, or you can handle things, but you just took a break and you're looking for something interesting that is worth to read. Well, what I wrote in the following lines describes my hole experience of being a webmaster to a directory like My Green Corner. I will write about all the aspects, about building up a directory, promote it, creating link partners and link exchanges, the tools I use, blending into the market, acting in new directions, the money I make with this hobby, the time I spend, and everything else related to this.
First thing is first, so let's start with the beginning.
1. The name.
There are around 10000 directories on web, or maybe even more, if we count the link-exchange directories most of the websites these days have. Many are very old, powerful, with huge traffic, very good advertised and have lots of people behind them. Many offer things you can't even imagine: back massages, millions of $ in your bank account, trips around the world and much more... Just joking... Now, seriously, you need an original name. "Free Web Directory" is already taken, so think deeper. Let's take, for example, my free web directory, "My Green Corner". Well, it definitely has originality. It sounds good, it's one of a kind, and I could go on with all the hype. But here are the bad things: 3 words, very long domain name and not quite a directory name as well. Hmm, the first letter is very, very bad chosen too. In front of "m" comes "a", "b" and so on, and many guys out here see things alphabetically. But what could be a good directory name? From my personal experience, I think it should have the word "directory" in it. And it should start with "a". Or "1", although numbers are not always a good idea. And it should be an easy to remember name. For example, "Aviva directory". A good directory name, with a lot of advertising and money spent around it, equals a successful directory. But what if you don't have money? I didn't had any money when I started this, and I assume you don't either. Or maybe you have the money, but you are not risking them. So if advertising comes out of the question, a good named should come in. Go fishing, do some thing inspiring, or just lay in your bed for a few days and think about your directory name. These day are the most important for your directory. You may also want to take a look at Google trends, or at the zeitgeist list, if you want to see what are the most searched words on web for free.
For my directory, I have spent a week at the mountain. When I sat down on the chair, ready to chose my directory's name, I was seeing green everywhere, so the "MGC" choice was normal.
2. The hosting.
You have found a million dollar name, and now, you want to build a site. If you didn't knew until now, sites are not floating on air, they are hosted on some little (or big, depending on preferences) black boxes we call servers. Most of these servers have an operating system. Some of them have chosen Linux because it's free, some of them have chosen Windows because is "nice". Well, here comes the good part: you will take the Linux one. Why? Because most of the open source applications have been developed for Linux. You know how they say that best things in life are free, right?
Now, about the money again, there are 2 types of hosting: free, and paid. If this is your first site, you can definitely settle down for the free one. There are many free hosts that don't require a banner on your page, just type "free hosting" on Google and you're done. Look at some features, see if php is enabled, if they provide mysql. Look at the bandwidth, see if they provide around 2Gbs, and if they are, you have found your hosting. But, because almost all free web hosing is not so reliable, doesn't offer 24/7 customer support, doesn't have php enabled, has different bandwidth and processor load restrictions, I recommend you choose the paid one. For somewhere between $50 and $150, many, many hosting companies offer good uptime, and almost all the features you need to build your directory. Choose a good name, or ask around on some forums about hosting.
I am now hosting my site on Godaddy. I got here after a lot of asking and looking, but I can say I am definitely satisfied, until now. The customer support is very good, I always got feedback in a few hours after posting my questions. And believe me, I had a lot. On this plan, called deluxe, I can virtually host as many sites as I want. This is a great opportunity for a low budget start, because I only paid around 80$/year. But if you have more advanced needs and know your way with apache, you may want to think about getting a more professional hosting.
Tip: always search the hosting before buying the domain. Most of the times, you will host you domain from where you have bought it, with the same company.
3. The script.
There are many directory scripts out there. What I am using on My Green Corner is a script named phpld, from PhpLinkDirectory. It is the most used script for directories. You can download the latest phpld free version using this link: http://www.phplinkdirectory.com/articlescript/phpLD_version_2.php or you can navigate to phpld site and buy the last version. Other scripts like esyndicat, or site-sift, are far behind in terms of functionality, templates available, features, support and feedback, and online community in general. Take it from here or buy it, read the instructions, and then install it on your server.
Here is how you do that. First, you will have to create a database on your hosting account. You can do that in your admin cpanel. After that, you can use a ftp program to upload your files. I usually use Total Commander. Type "download Total Commander" in Google if you don't have it already, download it, install it, open it and then press "CTRL+F" to open the connection manager. Use the hosting ftp username and password, and create a connection. Connect to your server and upload your files. Then follow the installation instructions.
Why am I using this phpld? Because of many reasons: I found great support on phpld forum, the admin interface is really nice and simple, the script's code itself is very easy to understand, and, with little coding skills, you can transform it in whatever you would like, and I found many good templates for it. What are templates? Well, at first, I didn't knew either, and if you ask yourself this question, you definitely need to read the things below. Templates are files that you add to your directory, so that you can make it look nicer. There are many places where you could find phpld templates, and one is visiting the free phpld templates page on My Green Corner. You can find many other free templates on forums, on other directories and so on. They important thing is to take the template that matches your directory script's version, and to follow the steps that are written in the text file inside the zip archive. Install a contact us page too, you will definitely need it. You will also need a logo and a nice and original banner. There are a lot of free programs on web in which you can build a logo. Anyway, the best remains Photoshop. If you are a beginner with Photoshop, type "Photoshop tutorials" on Google, and spend some days learning the basics. And another place where you would like to look for answers, and where i found a lot, is W3Schools, a site with many tutorials for anything that interests you.
4. The Birth.
Well, the birth? What could be more beautiful then giving life to things? Here is how you will give life to your directory, here is how I gave life to My Green Corner. First, I posted on this big forums about it like crazy, with my directory in my signature:
- Phpld Forum the most active community of directory webmasters
- Webmaster Talk a very active community of webmasters
- Web Developer An active community of webdevelopers
- Name Pros An active community of domain name marketers.
Like crazy, but to subject. Relevant stuff. My opinions. Try to help people where you can. Nobody like spammers on forums, but everybody appreciate good information.
If you can find other forums, that would be very good. All you have to do is to respect each forums rules, and to make your posts to the appropriate section of the forum.
Second, subscribe you directory to all the other directories. This will require time, I know. It is always the best to do it yourself, using a software like this. It was developed by a friend of mine that owns Prolink Directory, and it is very used all around the world. But if you don't have time, you can pay some other guys to do the dirty work for you. My directory also offers some SEO services. How I came to offer those, is quite simple: I only offer what I did for my directories. I can now handle a link campaign for any kind of site, with the right budget, because I do this every day for all my sites. Third, submit your directory to as many tops as you can. Here are the tops where I have submitted My Green Corner. I have even made a directory top, My Green Tommy, where you can submit your directory for free after you finish it, but we will talk about it later on.
All of these things take time, but you have to be strong, to keep your head up, because this is your introduction to the SEO world. What are you doing now is Search Engine Optimization.
There is a site named Directory Critic. As you can see if you give a click, you can vote for My Green Corner. After you made the vote (and I hope you have given some good marks there), take a look at the home page. You can see this site has lists with many thousands of directories. Usually, after posting about your directory on dp (Digital Point), it's webmaster automatically puts your directory on a list. But, if you can't find yourself on any list, you can ask him to place your directory through a simple online form. Then navigate to your details page. Copy the link and place it into the email notifications your directory sends to any subscriber, and ask politely for a vote there. High voted directories get free quality traffic from there. Vilesilencer is another place where you would want a link for your directory.
Write articles. You can see I write too. And believe me, it takes much time for me, because my native language is not English. So write some good articles and post them on the article directories you can also find on Directory Critic. You can also use Isnare, a site that offers article submission to over 40000 article directories and publications.
5. Add quality.
Well, you have advertised your directory, and now, you have some links pending. Approve them very fast, to please your subscribers. You can use this tool I got from a friend of mine that owns Pegasus Directory to approve as many listings as you want, very fast. Just make sure that they are quality links, links that have good and unique content, that provide a real service to web surfers, and that are really useful. The only thing important is the quality of your web directory. Gambling links should be in the Gambling category, Loans in the Financial one, and so one. Want my advice? Do not accept links on your main categories. Do not accept reciprocal links from pages that look like a link farm. Link farms are not well seen by the Search engines, because they where used in the past to manipulate their ranking algorithms. And do not accept inner pages. These tend to disappear with time, as webmasters modify the structure of their site.
Update you site daily. Thus, you will be very loved by search engines. They like new stuff, and they will keep crawling new information on your website, if you will give it to them.
6. Links good to eat.
There are 2 kinds of links: "good" and "not so good". I will explain what are good links. "Not so good" links are all the others. Good links are links that come from sites related to yours. For example, other directories, seo companies, and so on. It is like this because of the growing complexity of Google and other search engine sorting algorithms. So, if you find your link on a page of site that has the main subject related to a directory, that's a good thing. Good links are also links from sites that have no connection with yours, but the page from where they are linking you has many other links to similar sites, meaning links to other directories. Great links are .edu and .gov. These are most trusted by search engines, because they have a non-economical value, but are also the most hard to get.
If you find good sites, don't hesitate to contact their webmaster and to ask polite for a link exchange.
7. Go network.
Well, you made your first directory. You have taken care of all the things, and now, it's steadily going on autopilot. But why stop here? You have to think big. You can make some more directories to strength up the first one. Or you can even make a top of directories. I have spent a few months and around 1000$ building up My Green Corner network of directories, but now I have these:
- Oregon Free Directory a PR4 directory
- Software Directory a PR4 directory
- Bertha Phil's Directory a PR4 directory
- Bluchang General Directory a PR3 directory
- Hip Hop General Directory a PR4 directory
- Mericlong Directory a PR3 directory
- Craig W. Brown's Directory a PR4 directory
All of them are offering free submission, and I'm planning to expand my network even more, with time. You can imagine the costs are growing too, because I had to hire 2 people to do the directory submissions for all of them, then I had to do for each one of them on all the things I have described above , and much more. But, speaking about the costs...
8. Money. Money. Money...
Oh, money. Everybody needs money. So do web directories. So, let me get straight to the point.
First, the costs.
The costs for sustaining my network are around $100/mo*12(advertising subscriptions) + $250(hosting) + $7*10(domain renewal) + $1500(for my employees - they work on the contract) equals around $3000 per year. Not very cheap, huh?
But let's see the income.
To save me from more writing, I posted a screen shoot with my paypal account balance for all my directories in the last week (from the day I am writing this). You can see there is some activity over there, almost every day.
These payments come only from the directories and the services I offer on my directories. As you can see, I make around $100 in a week, which is not very bad. By the way, I could really appreciate some small donations that could help me keeping the sites alive. If you found this article useful, even a dollar would mean a lot.
9. Before I finish...
I must warn you. This isn't an easy job. It wasn't easy for me to be where I am now. Being a web directory webmaster requires passion and sociability. If you aren't into these kind of things, you may consider doing other things on web.
If you found this information useful, please consider adding a link to your site for My Green Corner. I would really appreciate this, and it will take you only a minute.
Thank you again.
« Back to Articles
Previouse article: Google PageRank and Promotion Tips for your phpLD Directory
Next article: Why web directories are important for your sites success