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Many directories out there are merely shells, built for profit and provide little ROI benefits for their clients - regardless of status and budget. The client must come first, be given outstanding advantage for them to return and advertise again. Unfortunately you can tell through coversing on forums, that this isn't the intention of some directory owners. What then does this say about the service they provide, and if that's the case, then will exisiting clients return to purchase again. I say no, they won't.
Are you guys and girls doing this for passion or just profit? And if clients suffer bad service, results etc, what are the steps to remedy the situation?
When it comes down to dollars and cents--and food on the table--realistic is better.
I mentioned golf course sites only because I discovered about two years ago that golf courses around the US were obviously paying premium dollars for listings.
These listings weren't just links. I'd approached a number of golf courses about doing sites for them. But they were already covered.
Go to www.somestategolf.com (obviously just a generic example), and you'll find not just the name, city and state for the course. You'll find a state map with flags for every subscribing golf course on the state map. Click on the flag, and you'll get everything you want to know about their golf course: tee times (some sites even let you book tee times online), cart rental fees, photos and menus for the restaurant/bar, maps and photo's of the greens, and just about anything else you'd ever want to know about that golf course.
The subscription to such sites has to be in the hundreds of dollars per month, given what the sites offer. These sites are not something that a typical webmaster can maintain a few hours over the weekend.
And that's what got me to thinking about my own site, for better or worse. I looked at a niche that I know well, and one that sells often high-dollar items. Prices for a widget (a recreational widget) within this niche can run from $500 to $2000, or even up to $10,000 for those who can afford it and want it.
The problem with my site, or me, is two-fold: the owners of these widget stores tend to be either ignorant about the internet, or outright hostile about it. Many widget stores are losing sales to onlne widget sellers.
Secondly, I am not the best salesman, especially when faced with most-often-voiced objection: "I haven't had anybody come in and say they found our store off your site."
Nevermind that my site draws about 4,000 to 4,500 visitors a day, and that most of the stores on my site get about 30 to 100 page views per day. Or that I only charge these stores $10 a month for such exposure, and give them as much room on their page to put as much text and photos as they want.
When the owner of the store, who often is never out on the floor to ask where new customers found the place, tells me that he hasn't heard anything about my site, I can only tell him that he's far removed from the day-to-day.
On the other hand, I have tiny widget shops in the most remote locales that are run by one or two people, and who have received many new customers from my site.
IOW, I had a good idea, I implemented everything exactly as planned, but did not plan for the "I don't think I've seen any new customers" objection.
When Shop A outside of Tupelo, Mississippi has gotten several new customers with only 1500 or so page views, and Shop B in Phoenix, Arizona says they haven't seen any new customers, even though they've had over 9,000 page views, my bull-o-meter starts to redline. Simple laws of probability would dictate that Shop B in Phoenix has already seen at minimum six times as many new customers as Shop A in Tupelo.
What you're talking about, though, is reality. Personalities, egos, and my favorite obstacle, the store owner's perception of himself and his business.
The store owner in Tupelo is delighted to see even just a few new customers, and sees that $10 a month as a small cost to build up his business.
The owner of a big store in Phoenix doesn't notice if one or two new customers come in every month. And that $10 charge may make him view my site as some backwater operation. Never mind that I know that the store has received new customers; the owner thinks that the size of the store and the reputation is more than enough.
My favorite? The store owner who says, "oh, we just put up our own website. We don't need you."
So, I ask--politely as always--how I can find their site. And the owner will say, "just go to bigwidgets.com."
Induldging him, I'll do a search for his company name. Can't find it on any search engine.
So, I then say, "excuse me, John, but how do I find your site if I don't know the address?"
At that point, a lot of them get downright hostile, because their cousins or nephews learned how to do HTML in high school, and how dare I insult their relatives?
If all this sounds like I'm just kvetching, well maybe so. But, the fact is, I have widget stores from all over the US. In small towns and big cities, both types have benefitted from my site.
I promised what I could deliver, and I've delivered what I promised.
And all of the above is what EK has described as reality: in advertising, perception is reality. The perception of your directory or portal is what you can make of it.
I've been very fortunate in that two major widget distributors have had their sales rep's encourage every store they contact to check out my site. It's brought in a lot of new subscribers.
I've also been fortunate to get a writer for two major industry magazines that target the widget retailers to do an article on my site.
I've also used up some of my political capital by asking one of the biggest lobbyists for the widget crowd to get an article about my site in three of the mainstream magazines that the national organization sends out to widget lovers. If I get those articles, I'm going to owe that lobbyist, big-time.
In other words, it's just like running any other type of business, online or brick-and-mortar: use every network you have.
A year ago, I thought my directory/portal/whatever site would be bringing in $3K to $4K a month by this time.
Instead, I have to re-adjust my goals, or give up. That's the reality.
(Please be aware that these methods are for directories that have NO operating budget and no advertising)
How to Set up a Directory
Identify Directory Niche
This is THE most important step you will take. If you get this wrong - any directory will most likely fail, as the industry idea it's built around, isn't workable in terms of getting/writing content, targeting too many prospects within the chosen industry or lack of interest - to be able to make a profit from the industry/idea.
Design that Directory
I recommend employing the services of a web designer/developer. Shop around, get 3 or 4 quotes before you buy. It's been my experience that unless you can do this to a first-class level, then you need the services of a professional. The directory HAS to look right - nothing less than perfect will do. (People are very critical and given the chance, will drop bad testimonials about you, wherever they can, and you don't want that!)
Designers can be anything from brilliant to just down right pathetic. You need to consider Price, Level of Expertise/Experience, Check the quality of their work, Testimonials and Availability to actually do the work in the first place/Future workloads.
(You can find yourself switching designers on a regular basis for a variety of reasons, so be prepared to change quite often until you find the perfect choice.)
There's no point in taking on a designer and thinking they will work solely for you, these guys can have any number of projects going at one time, and you really need to know if they can serve you 100% properly, or else it can be a nightmare getting them to commit to the easiest of tasks - remember, your client may want a service that you don't have, and you need to get something design pronto, or some error fixed etc. 1 simple coding error can completely stuff up a directory and halt any production or site development. Designers can and will promise the earth to get your business, so make sure you get a good one!
Getting a Directory Filled
This is not as easy as it sounds. Whenever a brand new directory comes out, it's taken with a pinch of salt mainly because the concept isn't anything new and people just don't trust that easily.
Start out by grabbing offline directories, and extract every email address you can. You are about to contact every company by email and offer them a free entry! This works very well, and takes care of the tough first contact phase with customers - this also happens to be the fastest way of filling a directory (without using feeds).
Using this method it's still going to take you roughly 3 to 4 years to get a reasonable amount of businesses listed. But without any companies to search for, you have no directory anyway - therefore NOTHING to sell or offer.
Those first promotional efforts are the hardest to do because you are an 'unknown' quantity. There is some free advertising out there, but itís mostly useless. Except for 2! These are:
Press Releases and Reciprocal linking.
The problem is that unless youíve studied PR, youíre going to have to pay somebody to write it. So, in a way Ė they arenít exactly free, but well worth hiring a professional to do this. Press releases have to be written well because you are going to send them out to all media where journalists have the final say whether you get into their paper or not. A amateurish press release written by a novice or inexperienced webmaster wont' be accepted in the offline world. Journalists get thousands of bad press release sent to them every day, and they won't think twice about binning those that won't make interesting and unique news. They are employed to make their publication money, and some news story about affiliates or another general directory isn't what they are looking for.
Reciprocal linking - everyone know the basics, so I won't go into great detail, just to say that once you have about 400 backlinks, the visitors start rolling in!
A Banner Ė very important for all those banner exchange sites and for normal advertising too. There are free banner sites www.addesigner.comwww.addesigner.com is okay, but to tell you the truth, you can get one designed for about £20 Ė just go to Yahoo! and type Banner Designers. You will need at least 3. Why I hear you ask, well cos you need one at your site, to use for your Ďin siteí promotions. This one is going to grab their attention and direct them to whatever page that you house your offers etc.
2nd one is for those banner exchanges Ė either use it to banner swap with all the others Ė or pay for some ad space with the exchange owner. That way, you donít need to permanently set your browser settings Ė think about it!
3rd is for the real advertising Ė this is the serious version of banner ad. The others are just to bring up your Alexa rating. (very important!).
Getting in the SE's is important, and I'd use a tool for that job. There are only 2 to consider:
ADD ME www.addme.com
I NEED HITS www.ineedhits.com
The first you do yourself, Ineedhits only charge £2.50 and will list you with 300 SEís.
Selling a Directory's Services
This is tricky he he. You can either do this by email or cold call via the phone. Phone is a lengthy process and can take upto 10 minutes per call. You will contact each company and ask to speak to the person in charge of buying ad space or the company owner. Now, you might not get through, as most companies have PA's/receptionists that screen all incoming calls and especially are on the look out for sales people - so they are on the ball!
But saying that, most of the time the PA is quite nice and willing to put you through or listen to what you have to say, so it's not all bad. Of course be prepared for the many 'NO's' and harsh language that may come your way. lol, I actually had one guy tell me my site was crap, and that's the thanks I get for giving him a free entry lol.
But usually, people are pretty nice about it, even if they aren't really interested at the time. Just don't think you will get them on board buying ad space right away - the first call should be used for introductions only!
Sometimes people prefer email only, so it depends.
Don't expect to get the owner of the business to sign up right away. The first call is the introduction. I often have to call three to six times before I can get the owner's ful attention.
It can be emotionally draining.
Also, I offer a free six-month trial period. Calling for paid renewals takes as long as calling to get them on the site for free. They need to go and look at their page at their convenience; they need to think about it; they need to do this, that or the other thing.
I've been fortunate in that I'm running at about a 66% paid renewal rate.
If a store owner doesn't want to pay to renew, I say "thank you," then send him a polite confirmation email. In that I tell him again how many people viewed his page on my site, and what his cost-per-view would have been if he had continued (usually the cost per view is about one cent).
I also tell him that the information about his store is still in the database, and that I would be more than happy to restore his page should he reconsider.
Today I got an email from a store owner who had just cancelled yesterday. He changed his mind. So, the polite emails work much better than calling the guy a stupid jerk, which is what I'd really like to do.
"But usually, people are pretty nice about it, even if they aren't really interested at the time."
Very true. I've had stores that last year said no to me contact me this year wanting to be on the site. As you pointed out, it takes time to build credibility.
He said " Thanks for getting back to me.
We will not be renewing our contract however, we now source our adwords and marketing out to a specialist firm who in fairness to them are doing a cracking good job. We are at times overwhelmed with enquiries (unlike last year).
Thanks for your interest and good luck."
Pretty blunt I thought, but what struck me was that he now has to pay this firm a fee to do what? Set up some adwords campaign with Google, plus already pay out wads of cash for the PPC in addition to this firms fee. The ex client runs an insurance firm, and if he uses the keyword insurance, it'll cost him about £225 a day, which is over £4000 a month! Okay, he might get triple the clickthroughs I was sending him, but he's paying thousands for it. That's if he uses 'Insurance' as a keyword.....
I'm still keeping his entry for a further 3 months, but after that period, I'll remove him totally. I'm not a charity, and if he's not paying, why keep him in the directory....
Event_King - Only makes $30? with 10K of visitors? That's a little poor. I would have expected a better return than that and I personally wouldn't be proud of it.
Why is that poor?
Who says my directory is there to make money?
10k visitors is very good considering the site is only 4 months old and relies purely on SE traffic.
And yes Mr Event King Directory Guru I am quite proud of it. I have put a fair amount of work in and I am so far happy with the result.
Sticky me your URL so I can make a comparison. I would love to see what a fantastic, professional, profit making, not for adsense, well designed directory looks like as according to you mine is not. And yet you have never seen my directory and I would be impressed if you have on your 'list'
I dunno, you're directory might make thousands per day. Perhaps the reason I get riled up is - it's the way a lot of forum members here talk about "I made $10'000 this month with my adsense site"
It's the constant gloating on here that annoys me and although I can't prove whether these earnings are true or not, it's my opinion that it's said to wind people up and generally piss them off.
That a good enough answer for you!
Who says my directory is there to make money?
I don't claim to know what your motives are. Maybe you're doing it to waste you time - I dunno.
10k visitors is very good considering the site is only 4 months old and relies purely on SE traffic
Congrats. That by search engine optimisation? or by link exchanges? See I don't think that amount of links is possible to obtain in such a short time period - and YES I have done lot's of Link swaps, I know about this kind of thing.
You see I don't rely on SEO work. I Don't need to you see.
And yes Mr Event King Directory Guru I am quite proud of it. I have put a fair amount of work in and I am so far happy with the result
Congratulations once again. Good luck
I'm an expert in some areas of Business. Although, I feel that the term Guru is not appropriate as it's such a unmeasurable term. But it seems that Guru is overused, especially on the web and I'm shocked that you worship these types anyway, as most have a terrible reputation for theft and bad service.
Sticky me your URL so I can make a comparison
You will hear about it soon enough. I'm planning a Search Engine too on a different subject. People can make whatever bad comments they like once it's launched - I just don't care really.
And yet you have never seen my directory and I would be impressed if you have on your 'list'
That's correct - I've never seen your directory, so how could I possibly tell if it was yours or whether it was bad? My comments said that I owned a directory list and I've seen every one on THAT list.
Didn't talk about nor name any one directory or owner anyway. So I suggest you stop being stupid and trying to cause an argument.
It's the constant gloating on here that annoys me and although I can't prove whether these earnings are true or not, it's my opinion that it's said to wind people up and generally piss them off.
Then why on earth would you disparage ska when he says that he's not in it for the money? And then you suggest that maybe he's running his directory to waste his time?
Sounds pretty argumentative to me.... I don't see much more use for this thread...
Survival is all about actually 'giving' something, and building on that to make something strong and popular, that's how things survive. You stick up 'anything' for adsense and it's going to look like a short-term effort. And what do people think then.
Each to their own.....
Yes, the directory itself makes £30 per day. I don't need to over inflate my earnings to p**s people off. I am being honest and trying to point out that it is possible to make a profit from 'yet another directory'.
It is kept strictly within its niche and Yes, I do have a number of link exchanges, but mostly I have 1 way IBL's because I provide something that people want to link to.
The real money is made away from the directory. It is there to provide a service to my users BUT, it is also there to provide a PURPOSE for ME!
EK, you make me chuckle with some of your comments but at the end of the day we do the same thing, only differently.
We come to WebmasterWorld to ask questions and learn from others experiences or to help those that need it. This is a very friendly community and should remain that way. This post started out as a nice thought and for some reason is becoming downright rude and unhelpful.
I see an all out war on the directory front. Enable Media Ltd operates Scoot under license from British Telecom Plc and already owns Askalix and runs the EuroPages.com UK sales operation. I now see takeovers and mergers happening and those that don't comply being crushed by the larger players. The Generals will be bought first (the best ones only) and the rest will either be pushed out of existence or dropped by their owners. Running a directory is NOT some 'game' boys and girls, and for a directory to survive and grow into whatever - proper business investment is needed. Just simply putting up a directory isn't enough anymore - that stopped when Yell and Thomson first started to charge £500 for their paper version and £2000 online for entries.
Only the best will get bought. The rest will hang on and try to survive, but with no major capital to work with, future major development is impossible, and that's why I say 'unfortunately' many directories will not be around. I'm not even sure mine will be about in 3 years time, and I don't joke about such matters.
Businesses come and go so easily, and the online world is even more uncertain and risky, so a fantastic idea is even more important to impress visitors, investors and for survival. Once the general SE's and directories are bought/merged, the niche battle will begin.
Everyone on the web certainly talks like it's so easy don't they - and that's makes me chuckle Ska. Just read the posts in any forum for the proof.
These are Big players that introduced paper book directories long before the web, they had distribution capabilities and became well branded and famous as they offered a 'new' and cheaper way to advertise - thus everybody used them and advertisers paid up for the (at the time) great exposure. These multiple category monsters cover every industry possible and offered good image and text services that got results for ALL business types. These General category directories moved on to the web, roughly in 1993/1994, and set up online versions to appeal to other industries and make more profit. Unfortunately, people's perception of the web was that of a cheaper medium where advertising is better and more affordable, and the majors didn't alter these charges to suit advertisers. But businesses still paid up, thus (what I believe) encouraging rises in ad fees and making the everyday Joe think it's easy to do.
The General directories come in 3 Tiers or levels:
These are players like Yell.com, Thomson Local and 192.
They have millions at their disposal to design superior services and the manpower to deliver it - thus making them big and popular. ROI is a mixture of Very good to poor and are mainly used for brand recognition purposes. Webmasters cannot compete financially with these monsters - they can crush almost anybody that encroaches on their territory and user base. They are often associated with Partnerships and mergers and can be owned by larger groups of companies - all of this equals power and wealth.
They can be general or specialist versions and usually offer advertising space at a cheaper rate. It's important to realise that with the cheaper rate and them not being as established and without the distribution of the majors, that the ROI won't be as good. Still, they can be good for getting the brand known, for PageRank purposes or helping a site in the SERPS. If the user base is high enough, you can expect some traffic, but conversions will be less and in many cases non-existent.
A couple of 2nd tiers do have partnerships, and can offer better services than 3rd tiers, but the charges can be about the same as the majors, and without the technology and reach - you may as well use a major one in the first place. Most advertisers use them as part of a link building strategy, so for this they can be good.
Of course the ultimate goal of the 2nd tiers is to get bought up by a major directory. The same can be said for the SE world.
Not established, very small databases and primarily used for link placement. These smaller databases usually copy the larger directories categories, style and even some services - some certainly buy lot's of domains and link them all to the 1 directory, thus giving the appearance of 'many' directories in a hopefully percieved 'group' - except there is no real group at all. These tricks will ruin the reputation of whatever directory and spoil what could be a good business model.
These are highly targeted towards one subject/category, and are set up to be 'a one-stop shop'. The aim is to attract and own a smaller section of the market, and hopefully build from there.
The target market/niche is virtually guaranteed if it's marketed properly and cashflow is managed correctly. The directory visitors are assured of precise targeting, and because everything on the subject is in one place, this speeds up the searching process thus freeing up a searchers time.
Internal Client Directories
Are set up by webmasters to serve their client base. Also known as 'Reciprocal link directories' or 'Resource Directories' they are basically used as link dumps, with the aim of creating a content area for clients and visitors, which can then be picked up by the SE's.
Although they can be fully categorised, these aren't 'true' directories. Merely a content builder or SERPS tool that aids promotion.
Quite obvious why these are set up. Can be database driven, but usually operate using a feed of results from a larger player. The owner then places adsense code or affiliate programs on various pages, then generates traffic where visitors click on the ads and thus generating profit for the owners. Easy to indentify the results provider and few actually offer any ad placement services of their own to potential visitors. These are self serving, and unless they provide a decent resource apart from the feed, I can't advise that these are used - as there's no unique offering.
1. They target enough to rake in the cash, But not enough to give decent ROI.
2. Their advert offerings could be better.
But they are established and so because they are a brand, they will survive and having millions to play with helps of-course. Newbie directories don't have that luxury or comfort zone.
This is why general directories aren't newsworthy anymore. You need an edge to do well, a gimmick, like say Gimpsy have got. Or be niche, but even niche directories need something special that sets them apart from the rest. But Yell is a directory publishing company and whether it's recognised as a directory or not - it will survive. Yell can get away with being 'General' because they launched the idea first, and people became hooked - it was new, exciting and cheap. That's why it worked.
The web is different now, people want new and better results, attention grabbing ads, and technology. It's just progression that's all. The old directory style is burnt out and won't survive without a major selling point. Saying "We are General" is not a selling point.
"We have new (whatever) technology that sells advertisers" is a good gimmick. Advertisers want results and visitors have to be catered for plus attracted to the directory. The key to success and survival is in the idea..
But tips are no substitute for the hard graft involved in developing such resources.
With the population of the internet more interested in search engines to find what they need, directories are becoming more of an SEO/webmaster resource. This is one reason why we've seen such a large growth of them in the past two to three years.
DMOZ started the "Let's Build a Directory" trend.
1. They made it hard for people to get listed so people started to look elsewhere for their popularity links.
2. Directory owners saw how interested webmasters were more than willing to pay to get into DMOZ.
3. DMOZ corruption sent several designers/programmers/editors out there with revenge to replace them as one of the directory leaders. Behind Yahoo, no one can touch them. But, take Google out of the equation and I think you'd see their market share drop and handed off equally to Gimpsy, Joeant, and GoGuides/Skaffe. Dmoz is very strong without Google, but I truly believe Google saved them from becoming equal peers with the new-comers listed above. They may not have been able to compete with them for traffic (if you include all the sites that share ODPs database) but, they would have become equally as popular when it came to webmasters and SEO's.
I think the Yahoo directory will survive even though they don't put as much emphasis on it now. Their name and branding will keep their directory alive.
Gimpsy will be fine because they have a unique niche. I don't see them becoming huge though.
Joeant carries the popular Go.com style editing. They will continue to do well.
Business.com's domain name itself will keep them up.
As long as Dmoz has servers they will be fine.
Goguides will stay around with their links2go.
Skaffe will survive as they continue to add things to bring traffic like their webmail, blog hosting and site hosting.
Does anybody use the Yahoo directory. Wouldn't they just go for the search? I dunno what it is, but I got this feeling that Yahoo will eventually do away with it and transfer the results into the search engine.
Yep, they are unique but I think they could really take off, but only if they get investment. As long as they don't do anything stupid, they'll do well.
hmmmmm, I'm not too sure about these guys. They aren't niche and their goal is to find and categorize the best sites for a wide variety of topics. But that's been done. Just35 did it years ago and dmoz does the same thing. I know JoeAnt is the name, but what's with the big ant dude..... Is it some sort of a marketing trick to make me buy stuff, I don't get it.
But still it kinda looks nice, so maybe cute creepy crawlies drums up interest. Will it survive - probably.
Yep, their name will save them. I see a takeover soon by Google.
Ahhh the dmoz, the classic editor driven database - tricky one this. See I see the great dmoz dying soon.
The complaints whether justified or not, difficulty in getting listed, and editor interest will decide it's eventual future.
I like Goguides, but it needs to build it's database more - then it should rock. I'm surprised it has such a high ranking - do people really love guides that much?
Should survive so long as it doesn't run out of cash. I bet it goes down the portal route. Google time.
We get a lot of submissions paid directories donít get. I never started it to make money or to be a page rank generator. It was started as an affordable marketing resource for the small and new business before page rank and back links became an important Google ranking factor.
Our policy for page rank hounds is to refunded their money and send them down the road to annoy some other directory operator. We have had more then a few weeks that we have taken losses due to refunded PayPal fees.
If Google dropped us tomorrow we would loose only 20.9% of our traffic. This month so far more referrals have come from Yahoo then Google but its very close with 33 other search engines providing referrals as well. We could live with that while correcting whatever gave Google indigestion and doing a reinclusion.
We were dropped by Google last year and had no problem getting back in their good graces. We went from over 200,000 cached pages to less the 4,000 mostly only showing the title tag and nothing else. ďThe dreaded blue lineĒ
Itís not that big a deal and certainly not enough to put any developed directory out of business. Joeant, GoGuides, Skaffe and WoW were all developed by dedicated Go.com editors. We love what we do and see a long future in the business. We put a lot of resources into Skaffe this year to modernize and bring traffic to the directory for our submitters. Itís doing well above our modest expectations and continues to grow every day.
Wow isn't a general, yet you offer a general directory?
From the look of the Wow World Website Directory - it's categories are very general indeed, so as a potential user, I would take it as being General.
Cats like Business2business and Education seem very general to me.
I do like the Wow directory though and if Google, Yahoo don't get their act together, then I'll be using someone else for my searching. I guess 'survival' means different things to different people - it could mean just affording hosting, so in a sense directories can survive so long as they make the hosting and ISP fees. But then survivial doesn't really mean much at all if that's the main criteria for survival hehe.
I see proper survival in terms of:
Making a good profit
Building on current products
Extention of services
Local and regional searches have grown a great deal in the past couple of years, more so with the UK our statistics show. I strongly feel it has a strong future but a stand alone L&R directory is very difficult to keep operating.
The real question should have been...what directories will grow stronger in the years to come? Let's get rid of the obvious ones like Yahoo, Business.com and DMOZ. My site(s) are listed in all of the above directories, including the wow directory. I've liked them all and think every one of them has helped my placement. As for traffic, joeant is the strong leader. Gimpsy, Skaffe and GoGuides make up for about 10 hits a month combined. It's hard to tell which one sends more because they're pretty sporadic, but a hit is a hit so Kudos to those guys. I haven't got a hit from wow, but I've only been there for a month. Gimpsy, Skaffe, Goguides and Joeant have all had my sites for almost a year. I submitted them at the same time per this sites suggestions. Since then, the only one that has grown has been Skaffe. In the beginning, I never saw anything. Now they're at least showing up in my stats. It's not much but it shows progress. Gimpsy actually used to send me more traffic in the first 3 months now it seems to have dwindled. Joeant sent me great traffic for the first 2 months, died off at the beginning of the year and are now back at where they were. From my perspective, Skaffe has grown a tad and the rest have dormied. If I could only list my site in one, it would be joeant for now. Luckily, I don't have to chose and my hopes are high for all of them to succeed.
All of the above directories have enough funds from paid-submits and from advertisers to keep growing. They're all laid out to benefit us webmasters. I wanted the popularity link and joining their teams and/or paying their minimal fees was well worth it. My final opinion, I think every one of them will grow. For my site(s) sake, I hope I'm correct. If any of you readers own these sites, I'd just like to say thanks. You've made a great alternative to the DMOZ fiasco and I seriously doubt my sites would be placed as well as they are on Google without your help. I encourage every one here to support their efforts.
It's just the way it's split up into different search functions - makes it look not local - but worldwide.
Do you worry about being squeezed by the majors at all, or doesn't it bother you? I've often wondered if other generals will survive much longer, as the cost and time involved in running them must increase as the size of the directory increases (eg. more cats, regions, other services etc).
This has to drive costs up.....