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Questions to Ask When Being Solicited to Advertise in a Directory

Questions any directory operator ought to be prepared to answer?

12:21 pm on Oct 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Got a call today from <snip> directory asking me to pay up a set up fee 299 + Vat and a monthly fee of 29.99 for a listing with our own 0845 phone number.

To me a SEO I would just tell them to "bolt" (no), however I would like to know if anyone has had any success in getting sales / enquiries / calls from them.

I have seen them on TV a few times and also AdWords.

<How do I assess whether a listing in a directory would be worth the expense?)

[edited by: Webwork at 8:38 pm (utc) on Oct. 9, 2006]
[edit reason] Per agreement with member to generalize the issue [/edit]

2:01 pm on Oct 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi RJ and welcome to the "new" Directory Forum. It's new in the sense that we will be working on taking the dialogue in a new direction. That will include rewriting the ground rules. Allow me to give an expample in the context of your post and question.

I would start by suggesting that you "Ask them", by email or otherwise, to answer certain questions.

Have you asked the directory provider for proof of their metrics?

Do they post their metrics anywhere?

Has any outside source attempted to validate the service provider's metrics? Somewhat like television ratings company - Neilson Ratings - in the US?

Do they breakdown their metrics with any degree of granularity? What percentage of their traffic actually targets your service or products?

Does their "model visitor" align with the type of vistor you are seeking? Is their traffic business or consumer? Do they target their advertising to the consumer market or business?

This is just the start of a list of questions that you might want to ask. The more you are expected to put at risk - pay, for unproven traffic - perhaps the more you should ask.

In the very near future we won't be hosting "What do you think about Directory XYZABC?" threads. Why? Well, for one, we never know when the person responding is simply shilling for the directory. Indeed, we don't know when the person posting the question is part of a tag-team. (No reference to you, whatsoever. However I recently nuked similar posts where the person "asking" had about 10 posts and the person answering had 11 posts.)

Hopefully we will be able to take the entire directory dialogue in a more robust direction, working on approaches to answering questions that will have broader application.

So, RJ, a) whilst I'm sorry to say I don't have an answer to your specific question (and hope no one else with 2 posts steps up to say "yes, they're great"); b) can you - RJ and everyone else - think of some questions that we all ought to be directing to the directory itself when we are trying to decide "should I pay for a listing?".

[edited by: Webwork at 9:03 pm (utc) on Oct. 9, 2006]

2:22 pm on Oct 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Given it's targetted at an 0845 number do they have a PPA option? Is a question I'd ask
2:53 pm on Oct 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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My instincts say I wouldn't spend a dime with them.


1. The only way I found to reach their "directory" is through a search or using their sitemap. Very poor navigation and lots of 404's when navigating to a category and clicking on the link to the right of "found in>".

2. Their search sucks when searching for a particular service (which they do have a category) and even when searching for a company by name which is listed in their directory I get a lot of results at the bottom with absolutely nothing to do with the company name.

3. Many of the directory pages I have looked at are not cached by SE's. For those that are and I take one of the company names from it and do a search in Google, that page is nowhere to be found.

4. I cannot make any reasoning on how they list, alphabetical, last in at top, amount of money paid?

5. If people (users) want a search engine - they will use Google, MSN, Yahoo etcetera to find their product/service. If the directory or its categories doesn't come up for the search terms you are going after, how much traffic do you expect to get from a listing?

6. Lots of empty categories. I would always stay away from "shell" directories.

3:01 pm on Oct 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Whoa, nice list of considerations Contractor.

Any chance you might re-cast your comments in the form of questions that come to your mind when looking at a sign-up?

For example: "How many empty or "shell" pages exist in their directory?"

I'm liking this. More questions! More questions! :) I want one to go into the Directory Forum Library so - please - pitch in.

FWIW, if this 'goes library' I will remove the reference to UFindUs since I don't want to target any specific directory - ever - in the Library. So, please keep the questions/advice/comments as generic as possible.

3:44 pm on Oct 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The first two questions I asked:

1) Do you have an information pack that includes traffic and also specific details in relation to my specific category?

2) Where do the majority of your visitors come from?


4:26 pm on Oct 9, 2006 (gmt 0)



The following message was cut out to new thread by webwork. New thread at: directories/3114259.htm [webmasterworld.com]
11:33 am on Oct. 9, 2006 (utc -5)
4:44 pm on Oct 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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For those considering listings in a directory:

How did you find the directory? If it's listed on some SEO site's list - it's probably also on the SE's list. Also see bulls-eye effect below.

Do they come up for your terms? If they are nowhere to be found in any of the terms you are going for - why list with them?

Do have contact info? What if you need to contact them? Many trash directories have no contact forms or info of any kind.

What's the whois info look like? Is it private? "Real companies" seldom use private registration (ducking).

The bull's-eye effect: Do you notice any of the following:

"Part of the hyperlink Network"
"This site SEO'd By hyperlink"
"Web Design by hyperlink"

If you find they use the terms "search engine benefit", "links", "SEO", "linking", Google PR, or any other type of SEO language on their site, think twice. They are probably now or will soon be on the radar of SE's.

Investigate their domain/hosting: Use a tool like whois.webhosting.info (not affiliated) and lookup their domain/IP to see if they have a "network" of like sites. These sites can often disappear from SE's in one fell swoop.

Navigate the site and use their search: If the site has slow response times it could very well be done "on-the-cheap". Is the site easy to navigate? Is the search facility at least reasonably accurate?

Are the pages cached by SE's? If they are, yet do not come up for any terms this could be for several reasons - none of them being good (unless it's a brand-new page/category).

What's the fee?: When considering a listing or advertising in a directory - add up the costs. If it's a one-time fee and is reasonable, you normally cannot go wrong if it meets the criteria discussed. When you get into annual or monthly fees, compare to what PPC is costing for your terms this site/directory comes up for. Weigh that out and divide by how many other listings in your prospective category and try to figure out the number of clicks you can expect and what they will actually be costing you compared to other major PPC avenues.

Don't be surprised if site owners either do not give you stats (many reasons for this), track them, or if they do offer them they will probably be inflated. Rely on your own judgment and not theirs!

I'm sure people can add to the above, but at least it's a start..

2:34 am on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Check the "page strength" of a directory page. Also, check the PR of the actual page you want to be listed on. Some directories have fewer categories or more prominent categories that can have considerably more value to your site than other directories that have your category buried down low. Again, take this with a grain of salt as PR is just a general indicator.

[edited by: Webwork at 2:42 am (utc) on Oct. 11, 2006]
[edit reason] Please no tool drops - direct or indirect - thank you [/edit]

5:47 pm on Oct 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The only question that I would ask is what is their URL and phone number to call them back if I'm interested in being listed.

The vital piece of information that you want to know about a directory listing is one that you can only get by trying it. Namely, what will the return on my investment be.

You try to do your best to determine whether a directory has a chance to meet your return on investment goal before trying it, but ultimately trying it is the only way to know.

Search for what your business sells on major search engines and other important sites. If you find directory entries that rank high then that's a good indication that you might want to look into being listed in those directories. Pretend to be a shopper, who is looking for what you sell, and see where it leads you.

Directories often offer various options for standing out from the other businesses in the directory. Trying them is the only way to know if they will work. Buying the cheapest listing as a way of determining if an expensive listing will pay, is not a reliable way to learn what you want to know.

...and yes, I do run a directory, but I don't call people soliciting them to buy a listing from me. I have tried that and I have more productive and enjoyable ways to spend my time.


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