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Continued Viability of Directories: Besides Being a "Quality Resource" What Else Will be Required to Survive?

4:00 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've got a couple of niche directories I've set up through the years. Top quality, hand reviewed results, on a custom platform. Never had a PR drop or anything like that.

How do you folks feel about having someone pick up the phone to call, to sell listings in what objectively could be said to be a quality niche or vertical directory?

Is this a viable model still?

What will it take for the directory model to sustain itself going forward?

[edited by: Webwork at 4:20 pm (utc) on Oct. 6, 2008]
[edit reason] Edit per sticky dialogue [/edit]

4:35 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The following clearly come into play when I think, not in terms of "the directory model" surviving but, rather, in terms of any particular directory making a go of it:
  • Cost of a listing
  • Substance of listing. Just a link and a blurb versus something more substantial that might be variably searched.
  • Duration of a listing
  • Quality of traffic arriving at directory
  • Frequency of clickthroughs
  • Express of implied industry endorsements
  • Value of a converted leads from such a clickthrough
  • Reliance of directory on search engine(s) to drive its traffic versus a directory with healthy inbound link traffic from sources other than "partners".

Those are a few factors that come into play.

There are so many versions or flavor of "directory". Stand alone generic directories. Directories found within active local or industry sites. Directories such as DMOZ with a community of editors and so on. Given the variety of directories I think it's hard to say that the model won't stand the test of time. It's mostly a matter of utility and traffic.

I don't see search engines falling in love with anything that competes with them in driving traffic but I don't see how a search engine can claim a "search integrity" if it were to to apply sweeping "diminished relevance" to directories. Not all directories are created equal and therefore do not deserve equal mistreatment, so to speak. :P

Therefore, I think there will be peace . . with conditions.

Phone calls to solicit business? I think that's how the yellowpages do business. Just don't run afoul of any "do not call list" limitations.

[edited by: Webwork at 4:46 pm (utc) on Oct. 6, 2008]

4:37 pm on Oct 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I doubt it would be a cost effective approach, simply because a successful niche directory will usually self-promote for free, specially a well established one.

But every niche directory is different, so it's certainly possible. Experiment!

As for the directory model, I think it has survived a lot, and will continue to survive - but I don't think it will ever be the money-earner that it was briefly while people saw directories as a route to Google's heart. Them days is well and truly gone!

I think directories are (slowly) regaining their reputation as a resource for web users, but they will never regain their 'get rich quick' reputation (though there's still any number of 'link directories' out there, trying (unsuccessfully) to prove me wrong!

12:33 am on Nov 4, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Unless your niche caters to high-value items, e.g. a condo in Dubai - one sale will pay for a lifetime listing in your directory, you will struggle with a telesales model. Work out your minimum profit figure and see if you can get enough sales in that niche.

In a handful of IYPs where I have contacts, most sales come as a byproduct of face-to-face print directory sales. Telesales is relatively minor. These companies also have premium voice and mobile offerings, so they can afford to have thousands of salespeople on the road.