You might have heard that recent Google algorithm updates have hit Web directory owners hard. In some cases that’s true. But if you’re thinking about entering the Web directory market, don’t let that discourage you. These types of sites are far from dead, and there are still plenty of opportunities to launch a valuable directory of your own if you’re willing to work hard and take it seriously.
For those considering launching a new one, let’s look at one of the most basic problems you might face, and some tips on how your own directory can better thrive in the current market.
Problems Facing Web Directory Owners
One of the biggest obstacles for Web directory owners is Google. Not only are search engines direct competition of directories, but Google has been known to penalize directory owners who don’t meet their own imposed standards.
Unfortunately there are many low quality Web directories out there. People set one up and allow free submissions in the hope that they’ll earn ad revenue. Or sometimes they set up quick premium directories with no editorial standards. They’ll accept any link submitted as long as they can make a buck.
These low quality directories have given the industry a bad name at times. And their low professional standards and routinely shallow content are a big part of the reason why directories have been getting penalized in the first place. Fortunately there are things you can do to set your directory apart from this crowd.
How to Thrive in Today’s Web Directory Market
Here are some suggestions of things you can do to make your own Web directory more successful, more appealing to visitors, and less likely to be penalized by search engines.
- Focus on a niche audience. The market really doesn’t need any more general Web directories. It’s a highly saturated area, and solid directories already exist there. By focusing on a niche audience you have a better chance of satisfying a need that other directories aren’t satisfying yet.
- Make your directory content-rich. This includes not only increasing the content on listing pages (giving more details in listings or including a detailed category description or even category-related article), but also adding other site content. For example, you might have a blog or static article collection in the niche your directory covers. Just make sure the content is high quality and unique to your site. Don’t just pull material from article directories or rewrite (plagiarize) someone else’s work.
- Eliminate shallow pages. This goes along with adding more unique and high quality content to your website. Where you can’t add enough content, consider cutting back. For example, you don’t want to run a directory with hundreds of empty categories displaying. Either find a way to hide categories until they receive a listing, or consolidate categories. Fewer categories with more content and higher quality listings is more valuable to a visitor than thousands of categories they couldn’t possibly hope to navigate.
- Focus on implementing high editorial standards. If you can’t manage the submissions to your site (or adding links yourself), then hire an editor to assist you. Directories aren’t simple passive revenue streams as some people think when they launch one. They involve real, and ongoing, work. A big part of your job is to vet the listings people submit. If you just accept anything that comes along, you’re showing your audience as well as search engines that you don’t care about creating a quality resource, and you risk being penalized as a result.
- Put your visitors first. You would think this would be common sense to anyone launching a website. Sadly though many site owners (including directory owners) still focus more on trying to appeal to search engines than appealing to readers. And in the end, that often comes back to bite you. Don’t put up a lot of keyword-stuffed content for example. Write descriptions, blog posts, or other content based on what actual users of your directory would want to see.
The best way to remain relevant in the ever-changing Web directory market is to make sure your site works well as a standalone resource. Choose a niche where a directory would add value. Focus on the audience in that niche first. Make sure your directory is easy to navigate and information-rich. And offer high quality value-added content whenever possible. There’s nothing new about this. But as long as people continue to rush into the directory game thinking they’ll make a quick buck with a spammy-looking link farm, there will continue to be plenty of other opportunities for more serious Web directory owners to thrive.
What else would you suggest? How can directory owners keep their Web directories relevant and avoid being penalized by Google? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.