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Quality portal sites are the future, but will require deep pockets and very hot ideas to keep ahead of everybody else. Who knows what the future holds - speculation is pointless without thorough promotion to test what works and what doesn't, which costs major cash. Then and only then will you discover what works.
The majors have the hold currently...... But it only takes 1 bad judgement call aimed at the public, and then wooosh - they can go bust. I think ad space is way too expensive these days, and most simply can't afford to keep paying these amounts to stay in business, so will have to seek cheaper ads elsewhere.
You wrote: "4. fee. only free ones are good."
Revenue isn't going to amount to much having free listings or just trying to offer ad space. You may wish to adjust your business model to how some of the other directories are doing it. Take a look at Joeant.com, Skaffe.com, WowDirectory, etc.
They all offer a Free Option, but also make revenue via their listing services. While none are as major as Yahoo, Dmoz, etc. They quickly became viewed as must list options via good marketing and fast service. Take a look at your own marketing and decide what improvements you need to make. Target an audience that will make you revenue.
For example: (and keeping this very brief)
Portal features for traffic, yearly subs., SE augmentation, diverisfied revenue resources via hosting, mail, etc....
Community, free by editing, free hosting for editors, some portal features, free banners for editors, hosting revenue, vertical marketing via Wow and Sporge.com, etc...
Community, free option by editing, site profile pages, featured sites, editor contests, etc...
Free option, fast service, free email, free hosting, large topic structure, some portal features, resource list for SEOs, etc...
Most remarks about directory profits are BS matey, started by people that have nothing better to do than to get chinese whispers moving. The directory owners are the only ones who know exactly how much they pull in every period, and it's unlikely they are going to disclose that information. I certainly wouldn't.
This is the problem with the web, a good designer can make an expensive looking site for a few thousand, and everyone jumps on it assuming that it makes millions.
If you are serious about a change in your directory's future then you should also do some technical, visual and SEO work.
Most remarks about directory profits are BS matey, started by people that have nothing better to do than to get chinese whispers moving.
That's right, so there's no need for anyone to try to start any new directories. Nothing but a waste of time and effort. My advice is to move along, there's nothing worth seeing here. (Just please don't let my employees get wind of this, they just might start to ask how we make payroll week after week, month after month.)
Dmoz got where it is because it was one of the first directories about, people were still new to online directories, and thus it gained the millions of free submissions it needed to become successful. The same can be said of Yell.com and Thomson, although they were already 'established' years in advance of the web, so they could 'get away' with not charging for submissions.
The rest of the directory world is NOT Yell, Yahoo or dmoz - this is because many businesses prefer to trust a major player/group etc. And is why this is such a tough industry to get into, never mind survive in.
(I hope industry is the correct word here)
There are so many 'publishers' out there besides SE's and directories and all jostling for position, clients and profit. No wonder it's impossible to make a living from this unless you're unique, and the pressure of business, status on the web, egotistical webmasters all egging each other along amongst the lies and falseness about the potential riches of website ownership, just trips people up and empties pockets.
People fall for it and will keep falling for it, until they get wise to this fairy tale world. What was once a great info resource has now turned into a world of scamsters, snake oil type merchants and major crime fraudsters. Yes, it is possible to 'make it' but not when a market is already saturated. I can't believe people fall for this stuff - it's laughable and sad, but this the web, and like I said many more will start directories, other portals etc, and all fail - unless they are unique! Why should I use or pay for something when there is no clear advantage.
There are hundreds of 'directories' - and if you can make just one stand out, then it may be useful, it may provide a ROI somehow - but result in millions for owners, I seriously doubt it because of the numbers involved. Money is the motivational factor of why everyone wants a directory, sadly it's a nothing more than a pipe dream for most. I must get 5 emails per day from some directory owners desperately wanting me to hand over £300, but that's too expensive for a start up directory, and I must ask myself, if I'm going to get that back, never mind any profit on top of that. I then check their Alexa Rank to discover that they aren't even in the top 300,000. Sometime the PageRank value is attractive to warrant a listing, but not at that price. No traffic, must equal no ROI.
This is business Ladies and Gents, and that's that.
If I were really interested in knitting, dogs or cats or even model trains
for that matter, I would use Google like everyone else.
If G goes down, I use Y. Then back to G.
I just went surfing for an obscure but important electronic part.
I could have looked into Biblical libraries, but I didn't.
I could have used the yellow pages from old old telephone books but I didn't.
I did what everybody else does, and Googled up the source.
Still, I must admit, I look into this or that directory to see
if they list my little forelorn site. Maybe that is the purpose of online directories.
They are there to make us feel a little better. -Larry
But some directories are very good at advertising, and also good for fast searches. Search engines are a bit deep, when searching and that can be irritating indeed.
This might sound strange, but if I want local stuff, then I use Yell.com - even though I know full well Google has a local search. The point is I know Yell is for Local searching and trust Yell more than anyone else for local searches.
But I'll use MSN or Yahoo for a general search... I have my faves!