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How to make your online directory matter to advertisers

How-to-make-your-online-directory-matter-to-advertisersPublishers tend to approach online directories with a path to least resistance mindset: create a yellow pages-like directory specific to their niche, sell listings to vendors in that space, and publish them. They give little thought to improving either the advertiser or the user experience – and then get frustrated when the products don’t meet their revenue goals.

Directories have been fading as a print business for years, and the online versions generally have not come close to replacing the lost print revenue because they are poorly promoted, not optimized to be found in search, and offer little value to users or advertisers beyond the print version. Going up against Google, that won’t cut it. If you think of your online directory business as a vertical search engine in your niche, you can offer advertisers a compelling alternative to Google.

The basic requirements of an online directory

  • Serves reader needs better than your competitors and your print directory
  • Structured as a database, not an editorial product
  • Optimized to be found by search engines
  • Value proposition for advertisers that commands worthwhile prices

Serve reader needs

If your directory is fading because it’s easier for most people to Google the information, then re-thinking reader needs is in order. The easiest value for you to add is structure and context that are tailored to the niche you serve.

This may be as simple as creating a taxonomy of vendors, but don’t go crazy. Even if your directory covers 400 categories and subcategories, do not overwhelm users with that level of granularity. Boil it down, and always keep the needs of the reader in mind. You’re trying to get people to the right place quickly, not create the ultimate encyclopedia for your industry.

Structure it like a database

Properly constructing your directory means treating listings like data. Even if your listings are editorial products, they should be divided into discrete fields that make it easy for users (and search engines) to find what they are looking for. Key categories of information may include location, size, product categories offered, company profile, etc.

Structured data is also much easier to quality check, maintain and update than blobs of copy, links and images that happen to sit in a database.
Optimize it for search

Properly constructed online directories that focus on a niche topic typically enjoy very good visibility in search engine results pages, and are far more useful to the searcher than the results Google will show.

URLs should look like “http://acme.com/directory/widgets/plastic widget companies” and not “http://acme.com/directory?catID=34338&subcatID=92”

Title tags should look like “Plastic widget company information” and not “Acme.com directory”.

The data fields in the listings should be carefully chosen to use the language that buyers/prospects actually use (and search for), whether or not it looks correct to industry insiders. For example, if manufacturers call them “Thermoformed PVC widgets” but buyers call them “plastic widgets”, then Plastic Widgets is what you label the category.

Create a compelling value proposition for advertisers

Turning your directory into a well-designed vertical search application creates many more opportunities for advertisers to be found and contacted. Instead of charging for upgrades that made sense for print but have dubious value online (like bold listings), charge for upgrades that actually lead to measurable advertiser results. These might include:

Clicks to white papers

More qualified traffic to their website
Better visibility for their brand in search
Faster speed to market for new product information

Here are two directory models that can work if you have good share of voice in an industry niche.
Directory as SEO play

A directory that’s set up properly can draw a lot of search traffic, because it is a concentrated set of relevant content. Search engines love that. In most industries, there are still lots of companies whose websites get little traffic because they don’t have the time, resources or expertise to get visibility on search engines.

What if instead of charging for logos and bold text and links, you sold a search-optimized profile page to advertisers? The page would have copy carefully written with keywords to get indexed in search. You would have AdSense-style contextual links adjacent to relevant articles pointing back to the profile page, and outbound links to landing pages on the advertiser’s site. The page would have a compelling title tag and custom URL, and would contain information about the advertiser’s key products or services.

Now instead of selling vague promises of “visibility in our directory”, you’re offering a way for an advertiser to pull in many more warm leads from search. Depending on the level of traffic your directory is pulling, you may even be able to charge for those leads, especially if you have a lead cultivation program integrated into your directory offering. Now you have a $2,000-$10,000 product instead of a $50 – $500 one, and you can demonstrate real ROI to the advertisers.

The press release directory

Some publications are all about the gear. Audiences for these pubs devour pretty much everything you can offer them about new products, but editors can only review and write about a small fraction of the new products out there. Meanwhile, companies are striving to get the word out about new product launches, often with press releases sent out through the usual distribution channels, with ho-hum results.

If you are one of the go-to places for people to learn about a class of gear, then you should supplement your editorial content with a paid, self-service press release directory. Marketers or PR firms can post detailed descriptions, specifications, images and links about their product. You set the ground rules both to prevent abuse and to ensure the directory has the structure to be a searchable data product. Of course, you label it to avoid confusion with your editorial product, and you ensure that you’re tracking it as part of your overall Web analytics.

Readers will love the all the new product information and detail. Advertisers will love the ease of getting their new product launches in front of your qualified audience without having to pitch an editor. You will love the bump in search traffic the directory will bring, and you can use the popularity of posts in the directory as a way to decide which products merit an editorial review. Oh, and the revenue isn’t bad either.

This model can also include a cost per lead (CPL) component. If the advertisers are manufacturers who want to push leads to their sales channels, charge for clicks to their dealer locator.

The self-service aspect is attractive because it doesn’t add to your editorial burden, but this model still takes regular oversight to ensure a quality experience for both readers and advertisers. Do it right and it can be a winner for everyone.

These are just two ideas. There are many more ways to turn your online directory business into something that actually drives new revenue. If you have a good example, I’d love to hear about it.

Categories: Marketing Tips

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Has Everything Out of the Box

By Christopher K.

Brilliant Directories is by far the best membership site on the web. They offer a fully integrated solution that enables you to start a membership directory business in as little as 2 days. 3 years ago I paid over $10,000 for a customized membership directory site that didn’t have the features that Brilliant Directory provides out of the box. The site is very simple to configure and easy to use.

Brilliant Directories has solved a major problem for me in my business and am now making over $10,000 a month.

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It Truly is Brilliant

By Michael M.

I’ve spent the better part of a year working with various directory systems, mostly built on WordPress. These systems were buggy, slow, expensive, and prone to plugin breakage. It was a frustrating experience getting them to work.

I was skeptical of Brilliant Directories until I tried it out. Wow! With their system, I had a working directory in minutes that was fast and simply worked.

One of the great things about their system is that it’s incredibly customizable. They’ve built their system on a widget platform that allows you to not only customize any part of the site, but you can use your own PHP and javascript code to create your own functionality.

There have been a few times when I’ve needed some help with their system, and I’ve found that their support team is very quick and efficient with ticket requests. They have a nice knowledge base and community forum that answers a lot of your questions.

Brilliant Directories has enabled me to stop wasting time on difficult WordPress systems and actually get to work building my directory. I wish I had discovered this service earlier.

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Awesome Staff & Company

By Mark S.

This is a fabulous product provided by fabulous folks. I’m loving it. The support is awesome. I feel I have found a family and friends. I have been looking for this script for ten years. I have tried every script out there, gone back to old options, tried again and ended up back at square one.

Then I found Brilliant Directories and what a find. Finally, a ten year search and some-one had the nous to do the job properly and completely. The last word on directories.

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Amazingly Great Software!

By Paul N.

I’m pleasantly surprised! It’s always been a dream to be able to create web directory website. I’m really happy with the service. I’ve never had customer service call me to make sure everything is going well. Dennis was very kind, understanding, and explained everything clearly. This really made me feel happy & comfortable. I love the videos. They are so easy to follow and everyone seems knowledgeable, yet so friendly. My site has been up for months and I’m looking forward to a long term partnership. With service like this I feel like I would go to battle for Brilliant Directories.

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Great Sales Experience & More

By Jeffrey G.

I have been extremely impressed with the staff at Brilliant Directories. I waited to review the sales experience until I got my site all set and operating because I wanted to make sure they were true to their word. They were! The site got up quick, the staff was extremely responsive without being pushy, and they simply have a great product that is packaged nicely.

Thanks for the great service!

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Fantastic Customer Service

By Zach V.

I have been in the Military for 6 years now getting my company up and running. Meeting Jason and his team was the biggest blessing yet. We were able to get our company up and running with out worrying about website development, Letting us focus on what we do best “marketing” Would I recommend Brilliant Directories to anyone else? I would STRONGLY recommend Brilliant Directories to anyone that is wanting to have a business for life. Thank You again for helping out so much.

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Look No Further!

By Joseph C.

I started using Brilliant Directories 6 months ago after trying to build directories on my own. I found their product to have all the elements that I needed to have in order to launch a directory. They gave me individual support and training to learn how to personalize and customize the directory for my market. I look forward to a long and productive relationship with Brilliant Directories. If you are looking for a directory for your niche then look no further. Brilliant Directories has it all.

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Brilliant Directories Is A Definite A+

By Andy J.

Brilliant Directories is amazing. From the first moment I reached out to them through their website, the experience has been terrific. The system is the cleanest directory system available in the market today, bar none. The people at Brilliant Directories are top-notch, and are always ready to assist in every way possible. I have worked with a lot of companies, both as a business owner and international business consultant, and I can truly say that Brilliant Directories understands what a “great user experience” really means.

If you are considering going into the directory business, I would highly recommend talking to the experts at BD. Jason, Matthew, and their team truly care about their customers.

Simply put, you would be hard-pressed to find a better directory team, or directory technology, in the world today.

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Brilliant Product + Support

By Richard N.

First, I have admired this directory a little over a year ago. I consider myself mid-level experience in web design. I am very proficient with Wordpress and Drupal but Brilliant Directories is far less complicated. The day I found this directory sometime around June 2014, it was the most beautiful directory I ever saw at that time even without trying out the admin demo. If I didn’t buy this directory a year ago it was because of price was a little on the steep side. Now that I own this directory I now know why it was somewhat pricy.

The numerous video tutorials associated with this product is worth more than the cost of this directory considering that several scripts out there charge exorbitant sums with very little guidelines or customer support. No Directory theme or directory on the market today comes even close to this product.

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Super User-Friendly!

By Erica A.

I highly recommend Brilliant Directories for anyone who is interested in starting a directory website. Both their software and customer support are first class!

I’ve been interested in holistic health for a number of years. I’ve found it hard to track down reputable holistic health care providers, so last year I decided to create a web site where holistic practitioners can list their services (and eventually get rated). This would be helpful not only to me, but tons of folks worldwide who prefer a holistic approach to healthcare.

I first started trying to code the site on my own using an ‘easy’ plugin, but realized it was never was going to be what I envisioned. I then tried to hire a developer to create the website for me. I got several quotes from curiously cheap to very expensive. In general, I found them difficult to communicate with and didn’t feel that they understood what I was looking for.

Luckily, I came across Brilliant Directories in a Google search. Not only did they understand what I was trying to accomplish, but they were able to execute my vision quickly. I found their customer support to be both extremely knowledgeable and patient with my questions. They even shared strategies to help get my first hundred members listed. 5-stars!

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A Message From The Founder

Jason Haloossim, CEO & Co-Founder

The first Brilliant Directories website was our own. In 2009, we took an idea we believed in and built software for it from the ground up. The idea was to build a directory website of interior designers and build an empire around it. But there was a problem: the software we found seemed to work against our ambitions at every turn. Back then, the options for directory software were unreliable plugins or expensive custom development. It was incredibly expensive, unnecessarily complex, and frighteningly unstable to combine random plugins.

Existing directory software did not have the features we needed and were not solutions we could rely on. Furthermore, as young entrepreneurs with basically no budget, we didn’t have a lot of money to invest in expensive development, so we rejected those options and created our own. Our custom software met our needs so well that we decided to take everything we learned and shifted our business away from the interior designer directory and towards fixing the glaring hole in the directory software market. We knew that we weren’t the only ones looking for a better directory software, and there needed to be an option to support the needs of start-ups and established organizations. We set out to create the software that we wished would have existed, and we launched it in 2010 under the name Brilliant Directories.

Brilliant Directories is exactly this: the only platform you need to build your directory website. Brilliant Directories is reliable, complete, and most important, saves you time and money compared to traditional web development. It’s a mission that we take very seriously. We stand behind our product with top-rated customer service and a dedication for continually improving our software daily. With thousands of users worldwide and growing every day, we hope to help your dream come online very soon.

To your success,
Jason Haloossim

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