Operating a local directory as a marketing strategy?


painperdu

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Does anyone on the forum operate there own local listings directory as a means to attract and market to local businesses?

This seems like a natural way to keep track of the local business scene and advertise one's local SEO agency.

My thinking is that spending time and effort promoting the directory can be justified if it attracts leads for your agency.

Such a business plan may work by charging for premium listings and by gaining leads for your agency.

Any thoughts? Anyone here doing this already?
 

Scott Barnett

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Hi and Happy New Year to all!

We don't operate a local directory, but we operate a platform that allows local experts to operate a local directory. As folks on this forum well know, a directory by itself does not really do much for your Local SEO in the long term - it needs to be surrounded by great content and engagement. So, we partner with folks that do the great content, and we help them with the engagement.

Our main focus is hyperlocal digital publishers - think your local hometown newspaper, but online-only. We've tried a few projects with non-publishers, and it hasn't gone as well, so we're focused on publishers only for now.

Our strong interest/desire is to see local Marketing/SEO folks partner up with high quality local publishers to offer a truly kick-ass local solution that can't be replicated by the large tech platforms. If you are interested in this, we'd love to chat.

Regards,
Scott
 

HoosierBuff

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I was thinking the same thing recently. I contacted one company, and the price isn't that bad. Really it's all about how do you drive links and traffic.

The more I thought about it, it was less about an idea to grow my SEO business, and was more of a question of "Do I really want to run a directory business"

I discarded the idea for the following reasons:

1. Monetization is likely low. It's mostly ad driven. There is little value in upgrading to a premium membership (I would never advise my clients to upgrade)

2. Very competitive, little differentation between different directories in the same town.

3. There is a vast wasteland of directories out there, seemingly with one or another going bankrupt every other month.

4. The value to my clients is low. There is some value, but, not enough to take on the other costs.

I felt it was too much work, not enough value. . . and really, there are a million other websites you could try to start that would make more money.
 

painperdu

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Thanks for the replies.

HoosierBuff, think of it as a CRM for SEO agencies that just happens to be facing the public.

If you're going to nurture leads anyway then why not put the information you have about those leads in the public where others may use it?

You will have to spend money promoting the site but you can justify this if it attracts clients to your SEO (or design, development, marketing) business.

A local biz directory is great content if it's done right and will attract eyeballs if it's promoted. It can give a SEO a birds-eye view of the local landscape and an intimate knowledge of the condition of individual websites.
 

Ben Bowen

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It's an interesting idea. And HoosierBuff is right, most major cities probably have several zombie directories... You could probably purchase one and have a head start on data. Just have to redesign it for your purposes.
 
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Imprezzio started a local biz directory awhile back. They talked a lot about it at launch, but I have not heard much since and don't remember the name.

Hopefully Joy or Colan will see this tomorrow, if not today and weigh in.
 

Adamk

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We also have thought about the strategy, we even built a prototype. We have been so busy client side that it has sat on the back burner. Check out PinPointLocal.net Maybe it's something you can use. Either way, thoughts about the business listings are appreciated. (it hasn't been updated in quite some time)
Happy New Year!!

Adam Kaufman
PinPointLocal.com
954-531-4470
 
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I hope Joy doesn't mind me replying to this topic of last month. But I'm also thinking about starting a local directory, a few even, but with a small addition to what the most publish online.

I want to add more content, based on users or companies. Like testimonials, comments, news and sales/discounts. Perhaps even some content pages with a history about that town, village or city. And if possible I'd love for it to have weekly news, but no idea on how I'm going to get that generated.

What do you all think of this? All tips and ideas are welcome!
 
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I haven't made, or even talked to anyone who's done this, but what the hey... it's Sunday, figured I'd toss out my two cents for whatever it's worth.

All the local business owners I've worked with and spoken with have gone a few bouts on the phone with the directories. This was a fresh idea years ago, but now there's a dozen+ different directories reaching out, some of them fairly aggressively. So yeah, it does work as a foot in the door (Hi, this is Yelp, etc. etc) but it doesn't get you under that shield of skepticism that local business owners have all had to foster over the years. Marketing ourselves is a lot harder than marketing our clients, in part just because our audience has been burned so many times in the past. Most dentists don't have to put up with that level of skepticism (how do I know you're a REAL dentist, and that you're not just going to mess up my teeth and waste my money?)

In my own experience with marketing, seems like the best plans all have to fit a very particular equation. Goes something like this: how much money will it cost, how much time will it cost, how quickly can you test it and back off if it doesn't look promising, how congruent is it with everything you've already got going for you, etc. Fail fast, fail quick. If all you're looking for is a new way to bump up lead gen, you could try a million other things that you could cook up and have out the door in a month's time. If this is a plan that will take 6~12 months before you can fully decide whether or not it's time to pack in your chips and try something else, that's a ton of lost opportunity for smaller outreach... and even if a directory DOES get your foot in the door, you're still going to need to have a solid strategy for hooking them in the rest of the way. The big directories have whole boiler rooms full of sweaty, experienced cold callers, slaving away on consistent, targeted outreach. You'd be making sales that way too with that size of a sales force, even if you didn't have their hook. You just need the right offer, the right approach, and all the rest.

That doesn't mean it doesn't work though, just means that the opportunity cost for testing it out sounds a lot higher than other, easier things (Direct response to the right list, through the right medium, with the right front end offer and sales pitch) especially if you're a small shop, and you're just looking to build up to a dozen healthy, awesome clients on retainer. I think a lot of small shops grind away months and years on 'plans' that all involve work to avoid actually spending time in the trenches, talking with their audience as often as possible.

Obviously if you've already got a dozen stable clients and you're looking to start scaling, disregard all this. I'd still test webinars, books, and speaking engagements before I'd test a directory site though, just because they'd be easier to measure results, test, and iterate on. (Though the book would only be in that category if you've written a bunch already).

I'd still love to hear sometime what Colan and Joy have to say about it though.

Edit: just realized this was an old thread that got revived, my bad. Ah well, rant stands.
 
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Thank you very much for taking the time to write that great reply, lionandtheram!

I'm already having weekly conversations with possible clients, so it's just to start scaling and perhaps even earn some extra cash on the website itself.

The competition for the locations I am going for are really not big, not even normal sized, so it won't be hard for me to rank for related keywords. Next to that, I've got great domainnames for these local directories, like city.com and town.com.

Would love to hear more from all of you. For example;
- What are some of the best directories out there and why?
- Perhaps, how to get user generated content on these directories?
 

djbaxter

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Would love to hear more from all of you. For example;
- What are some of the best directories out there and why?
Do you mean actual directories or directory software? For software, Google phpLD.

Perhaps, how to get user generated content on these directories?
Start it up. Start populating it with businesses you already know about, adding your own reviews, write a couple of blog posts about it or run some ads - once people know about it, they will find you.

To make it worthwhile, you want it to serve two purposes: (1) a local business and service directory, and (2) a source of customer reviews of those directories (the more difficult of the two).

But you have to be careful to make this a quality source for local businesses. Keep the cost reasonable, just high enough to discourage junk listings, and manually review all submissions for accuracy and quality. You're doing it right if you reject more than you accept over time.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Do you mean actual directories or directory software? For software, Google phpLD.



Start it up. Start populating it with businesses you already know about, adding your own reviews, write a couple of blog posts about it or run some ads - once people know about it, they will find you.

To make it worthwhile, you want it to serve two purposes: (1) a local business and service directory, and (2) a source of customer reviews of those directories (the more difficult of the two).

But you have to be careful to make this a quality source for local businesses. Keep the cost reasonable, just high enough to discourage junk listings, and manually review all submissions for accuracy and quality. You're doing it right if you reject more than you accept over time.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Thanks for replying Djbaxter! I'm not talking about software, since I will be building this in Wordpress, but actuall directories that are just a bit different then all the standard directories.

I will be manually reviewing the submissions!
 

painperdu

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Klaas, something like this will take lots of time and effort and money. You'll need to come up with a good justification for spending the resources and money required to constantly promote your directory over others.

Do you have sensible a plan to make the directory earn it's keep?
 

Klaas Koopman

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Klaas, something like this will take lots of time and effort and money. You'll need to come up with a good justification for spending the resources and money required to constantly promote your directory over others.

Do you have sensible a plan to make the directory earn it's keep?
I managed to think of a plan, that will make the website fit in my total plan of projects currently. So it's not only for my local clients, and getting more local clients, but also earning money on a monthly basis, without too much time involved.
 

JustinB

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I have seen local directory creator softwares, very nice if you are the go to local SEO/SMM guy. The ads you could sub out for adwords until you get local guys buying ads when you can get the visitor traffic up.
Another good idea I read today to get some quality traffic, backlinks, and content? Join Haro, put out a request for experts with various niche questions that rank on quora you know people locally would want to know, and you can have guest blog posts on your own directory. Before you know it you can outsource the management of the guest blogs to a VA, and just figure out the HARO content ideas.
 

Klaas Koopman

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I have seen local directory creator softwares, very nice if you are the go to local SEO/SMM guy. The ads you could sub out for adwords until you get local guys buying ads when you can get the visitor traffic up.
Another good idea I read today to get some quality traffic, backlinks, and content? Join Haro, put out a request for experts with various niche questions that rank on quora you know people locally would want to know, and you can have guest blog posts on your own directory. Before you know it you can outsource the management of the guest blogs to a VA, and just figure out the HARO content ideas.
Hi Justin, I have looked at HARO before, but it's only for English speaking markets, and mine is all Dutch. But I did write up an idea which could work even better:
I'll be using a good outreach to the top companies, requesting for some answers on some questions, which people actually look for. And I will publish these. After the article is published, I'll contact the companies again and see if they want to read the article, perhaps link and share it aswell. This way I don't only get extra content, but also some more links and social media shares.
 

HoosierBuff

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Best of luck. Let us know how it goes.

I'm reminded of this quote/idea from Tom Peters, "whoever tries the most stuff wins"
 

painperdu

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Would having citations pointing to a business's directory listing work for local SEO? In other words, would treating a business's directory listing page as the homepage for that business work? Instead of using the business's website in citations use the directory page.

I assume Google and others have no rule against using any webpage as the homepage of the business. Is this so?
 
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There's a lot of important on-page factors that can influence your ability to rank. You can have a GMB page (and many other citations as well) without any website at all listed if you like, just don't expect it to not be a mark against you.
 

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