Are directory sites dead?

10 replies
I'm toying with the idea of starting a directory site here in Canada for a niche market. I've always ran blogs but directories are a new ball game for me....can anyone comment on the viability of directory sites?
#dead #directory #sites
  • Profile picture of the author MobRich24
    If it's local and someones competition is on it then chances are the heard will follow. If your going to build a directory site stick with local directory site and add the top guy on google for all the different niches and businesses. Then the competition will start adding their self manually.
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  • Profile picture of the author hotlinkz
    Your first step should be to fully research any existing directory sites that serve the niche you wish to target. If there are none, it would generally indicate lack of demand for "your-niche" directory sites.

    Could also mean you are the first to jump in - but this scenario is more on a "winning the lottery" theme. It's just not all that common.

    Good Luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author topcoder
    I would focus your attention elsewhere's, they are pretty much dead.

    I did see one cool, directory type website, where they put a drop down of all sites to receive SMS Codes from and loaded them up in an iframe and plastered ads around it.

    Made it a lot easier to search for them all. It was hyper niche focus on something very useful
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  • Profile picture of the author ANDREIS
    Just do the math. If there are enough sites or businesses which could benefit from being listed in your directory just go for it. Make a many sites or businesses you need, what benefits you will offer them, how exactly you'll make money, how much work it will take to make it all worthwhile...
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  • Profile picture of the author Doug
    I have little experience these days with directory style sites, so take my idea with a 'grain of salt.'

    Rather than the traditional style site maybe consider doing a niche directory app. For example, the restaurant niche, your app simply built for the end user in mind providing deals for breakfast, lunch and dinner from various restaurants.

    While probably not a 'directory' in traditional sense, you control the listings, the ads and charge owners to be listed. The app notifies the user when new deals are available... think push notifications.

    Any way, quick thoughts for getting your juices flowing.

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  • Profile picture of the author silveroaks
    You need to get your research done first. First do your homework about how many people are already there. having none would mean that there was not much demand that is why no one went that way.
    Plan out what you are going to offer and how will that be attractive to people enough to join you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Originally Posted by ChantalVanderlaan View Post

    . . . can anyone comment on the viability of directory sites?


    Yes, directory sites are viable in some niches but probably not all. Tiny and relatively obscure niches may not have enough participants and/or viewers to make your efforts worthwhile.

    If done well (meaning your directory gives great value to both the directory participants and the directory users), it can be a great success.

    Realize also, that some of the most profitable online directories . . . the public will never see . . . they don't cater to everyone. They are reserved for and targeted to specific audiences like trade groups, associations of members, businesses in defined industries, wholesalers targeting B2B, people with a common problem or condition, or owners of specific products (like Corvettes).

    Here are five purposes for a directory:
    1. Solicit - Identify and attract participants in the niche and qualify them to be a participant in the directory.
    2. Organize - Assemble the participants into defined and workable categories and subsets making their presence intuitive and easy to locate for those using the directory.
    3. Educate - Viewers may know relatively little about the niche so the directory can be a source of education about the types of information and participants that are in the niche. In a different model, participants in the directory may be targeted for education by a sponsor, an association, or a manufacturer.
    4. Advertise - Participants in the directory listings want their presence known and will often pay for that privilege.
    5. Reference of Authority - Viewers (and to some extent participants) might feel that being a part of a niche directory adds to the credibility of participant. Additionally, participants expect that viewers may use the directory often as a reference source (much like a phone directory). In the future, this is where viewers can find contact information for a specific participant.
    The best advice I can give is to find ways to add value to your directory for both participants and viewers (directory users). In addition, make sure your site is responsive so it can be seen on all sorts of devices besides a computer monitor.

    Most people who say "directories are dead" have in mind the older spammy directory model where free listings were hopefully (for participants) a source of business leads but there was really no added value for viewers or participants. This model became a source of much spam so many have avoided it lately.

    But in the right niche, and targeted to the right participants, I believe a directory site can be both a source of value for niche participants and viewers and also a money generator for the publisher.

    Focus on making your directory site a valuable resource of niche information. In fact, make it a "portal" (a well tested business model) in the industry and you could turn it into a nice source of multiple income streams.

    Focus on giving value (and not just once), targeting a very specific audience (probably not the general public), organizing and segmenting the participants, and being a one-of-a-kind genuine "resource of authority."

    The best to you,


    Steve Browne, online business strategies, tips, guidance, and resources

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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by Steve B View Post

      Realize also, that some of the most profitable online directories . . . the public will never see . . . they don't cater to everyone. They are reserved for and targeted to specific audiences like trade groups, associations of members, businesses in defined industries, wholesalers targeting B2B, people with a common problem or condition, or owners of specific products (like Corvettes).
      This is where I was going to go. Rather than a simple "directory", comprehensive niche portals can be quite successful. The old school link directories fell out of favor when, as Steve said, they got spammed heavily, mostly by backlinkers.

      In addition to the traditional directory links, add pointers to solid resources, statistics, etc. of interest to niche members. Become the go-to resource hub for the niche.
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  • Profile picture of the author dynamyt100
    I am actually busy with a similar project. My angle is to use as much information as possible about each listing (company) and create 'mini' websites per se. I want to give the customer the ability to sell themselves on my site. So, for a FREE listing you get a basic listing, for X you get more content, images and xxx. So, utimately the user will be able to MARKET themselves using the directory as a platform. I am targeting non-tech businesses who do not have a large online presence.
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  • Profile picture of the author jamesbrands
    Depends on what you are looking to get out of it.

    We set up a directory on a regional site as a way to get web design leads and it delivered.
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