What makes a directory valuable?

Zhivko

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
37
Hello everyone,

I am working on a business directory for dentists. My job is to make sure it really provides value for dentists and they will benefit from having a profile there. Obviously, this has to do with how the directory is optimized for search engines.

I would love to hear from you what are the most important factors that make a business directory "high-quality". (I mean, besides the leads it can generate, because our directory is still new and hardly have any quality traffic.)

Here is my checklist which I have covered already:

  1. Easy registration - I know that's important especially for agencies doing citation building in bulk.
  2. No spam and fake profiles - This is especially important for us. For now, we do manual approval for every listing and profile verification is done through a mobile app. (which is way simpler than phone calls, imo, and just as reliable if not even more.)
  3. Content Rich Profile Pages - we want to have as much information as possible in addition to the NAP. Images, short description, long description, categories, website, links to social channels, working hours, etc. (Basically, everything that can be marked with schema)
  4. Structured Data for Dentists - Every piece of information, entered by the dentist, is properly marked with Schema. This should help Google understand them better.
  5. Structured Data for Reviews and Rating - We use Schema to mark up all the reviews and ratings for each dentists.
  6. Location pages with static, pretty URLs that Google can crawl and index - this turned out to be particularly hard for someone with no experience but I think I got it right at the end. Especially for search results pages which are generated automatically. For example, when someone searches for "dentists in [location]", "[location] dentists", etc I want the page that generates to be "/dentists-in-[location]/". And then, in order for Google to read those pages, I had to link to each and every one of them. The result is that the directory competes for those keywords, not just for the dentist's names.
  7. Keywords in Titles, Descriptions, URLs, Image alt tags.

And I think that's it. Some other things that I think people appreciate are:

  1. High DA
  2. Free registration
  3. Dofollow links

Am I missing something? Is there anything else I should take care of?

The directory is live but we are still working hard on it. The main problem right now is how to make dentists fill their profiles. If I make too many fields mandatory, I am afraid they just won't finish their registration. If I don't make them mandatory, they will leave them empty. And I really need text on those pages if they are to rank anywhere near the first page. I am now in the process of adding "encouraging tool-tips" like "Adding a short description will help you get more leads". And we will have a "bar" that shows that "your profile is finished at 87%". And we will eventually send out emails encouraging them to come back and fill their profile... Any other ideas?

Thank you!
 

Colan Nielsen

Administrator
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
3,137
I think you nailed some good stuff down so far.

I'd add that you need a good support system. By this I mean a way to contact the site and someone who actually replies.

Good luck! You're entering a very competitive space.
 

Yan Gilbert

Administrator
Joined
Oct 15, 2016
Messages
191
Looks like you have most of the important things covered. I can't think of anything else really, except maybe to connect with other link building services to make sure your site is on their list.
 

Zhivko

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
37
I'd add that you need a good support system. By this I mean a way to contact the site and someone who actually replies.
Hm, this is in place but I didn't realize it is something that adds value... You are right, of course. It is not within my responsibilities, for sure, but I might try to make it more "obvious" to users that we have this. : )

Looks like you have most of the important things covered. I can't think of anything else really, except maybe to connect with other link building services to make sure your site is on their list.
Thanks, yes, I am actually trying to do that. So far, I got a confirmation from a company called Loganix that they will use our directory. And MOZ said they might add it to their list when they decide to update it (which might not happen any time soon). I am pretty sure I will get OptiLocal to use us, 'cause I know them personally.

My biggest hope is to get included in BrightLocal's and WhiteSpark's lists but they probably get hundreds of such requests a day, so I am not sure how this will work out.

Not much progress so far, as you can see. Most seem to ignore my emails (like I would if I was them, no judging here) and I am not good at being annoying on twitter. I keep telling myself that it takes time. Got any tips? : )
 

JoyHawkins

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Jul 18, 2012
Messages
2,603
I think before dentists will care about the site, there has to be some level of traffic. People are becoming more focused these days on citations that rank organically on Google or send them referral traffic. I think for a directory to break through the noise, it needs to offer something the others do not. What is your site going to offer that the other directories currently don't give?
 

Zhivko

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
37
Hello @JoyHawkins

I thought about this a lot when I started. Dentists want a directory with users. Users want a directory with dentists. It is an egg or chicken problem.

To dentists, I can at least offer the SEO benefits of being listed on yet another niche directory. It might not be much but it is something. This is what I try to focus on.

My ambition is that the profile pages will rank well for searches like "[dentist name] + reviews". This should bring our first organic traffic. But for that to happen, I need dentists to create their profiles first.

To users, I don't know what to offer. What good an empty directory can be? We do have a rewards system in place - both for dentists and users. But it doesn't help with getting organic traffic.

We will eventually have a blog and probably get some traffic from long-tail searches but it's not really a solution.

Also, thanks everyone for joining the discussion, this is helping me rethink everything again and forces me to try different perspectives, you've been very helpful! : )
 

JoyHawkins

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Jul 18, 2012
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One that you should definitely look at for inspiration is HomeStars. They are a huge niche directory in Canada. I have no idea how they built their brand awareness but contractors in this area get SO much traffic from it and it drives an insane amount of conversions. Kind of like how Yelp is to restaurants. Part of me thinks they must have some type of PR or outreach strategy that supersedes SEO but I haven't looked into it.

I know the company I worked for prior to starting my agency started a directory and the hardest thing was getting authority and links.
 

Zhivko

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
37
I checked HomeStars. It gave me this idea that I should promote the directory on a local level, city by city. And grow it from there. This should be much easier. I will just use Facebook and Google ads to target dentists in specific locations.

I don't see why this won't work.

Btw, I heard back from BrightLocal, they said they will use my directory once it gets bigger, hooray! : )
 

UKSBD

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Nov 19, 2015
Messages
29
Depending on what country you are in and how risk averse you are, you need to be really careful, especially when it comes to allowing people to add images.

Just one Getty image uploaded by someone which you are not licensed to use can cost you a lot of grief and money. You can try and pass the blame to the person who added it, but your site, your responsibility.

As a directory owner myself who has tried many different features over the years I would say just do the minimum you need to do to get rankings but have a prominent link to their website.

Why as a business owner would you want somebody hanging around and seeing lots of your stuff on a directory site, all the business owners really want is people to find the directory and click straight through to their site.
 

Zhivko

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
37
That's a good point, I don't think anyone in the team thought about image license rights. I will bring it up.

As for having lots of stuff on the page, my idea is that the more content a business owner adds, the more visible his profile becomes. It makes his profile page more competitive on Google. But I definitely can make the link to their site more eye-catching. I could add a button with a call-to-action. Or make the image clickable and linking to their website. If they get leads from me, they will value the directory more, spend more time to build their profile, reply to reviews, etc... That's a great advice, thanks!

By the way, speaking of links, I decided to NOT mark them with nofollow. I read everything there is on the topic and I don't think marking the external links with nofollow is needed at all. Those are links to websites of actual businesses, nothing spammy or shady. The links are not "sponsored". This shouldn't be considered a violation of Google's rules.
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
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Sep 12, 2012
Messages
1,726
I think you nailed some good stuff down so far.

I'd add that you need a good support system. By this I mean a way to contact the site and someone who actually replies.

Good luck! You're entering a very competitive space.
Underrated reply. This is huge.

I would definitely be trying to drive traffic via SEO. Check Yelp and how they do internal linking and how they rank so well.

Once you're ranking well, people will start to care on both ends, the providers and the visitors.
 

David W Cox

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Feb 19, 2018
Messages
10
The other place to look would be here in the United States home advisor as a locator for contractors. They have been around a long time but get good organic search by town. One of the possible stand out features if you can afford it is personal contact with users. People are so used to scalable impersonal websites so call the user when they sign up brief thank you questions to add to profile and help them. Customer support not sales type of contact. They will remember it in my opinion and stick with you. I know it is expensive to do.
 

Digitaldar

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Dec 8, 2014
Messages
122
Interesting... my perspective would have been to build for users first - I do think that reviews are a great way to get user engagement. You could for example, add dentists for free for now and charge them later - that part is easier in my opinion than getting people to use the directory... and if you build for people, Google is supposed to follow? LOL
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
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Sep 12, 2012
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Interesting... my perspective would have been to build for users first - I do think that reviews are a great way to get user engagement. You could for example, add dentists for free for now and charge them later - that part is easier in my opinion than getting people to use the directory... and if you build for people, Google is supposed to follow? LOL
If you have to choose, you're absolutely right. But hopefully you don't have to! If the site is well done, both parties should be interested.
 

UKSBD

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Joined
Nov 19, 2015
Messages
29
The problem with building directories is that what the business owner wants may be completely different to what the end user wants.

I as an end user want to find a list of about 10 businesses within about 20 miles of me (ordered by distance), I want to see a very brief description of what they do, a phone number and a link to their website.
I don't want to see reviews on the directory I find them on as I now most will be fake, if I want reviews I will search for them after I have narrowed down my list.


I as a business owner only want the end user to find my business on the directory or if there are any rival businesses I always want to appear top (even if further away than other businesses), I want a followed link to my site, I want to be able to send all my happy customers to write a review so I am 5 star rated (even though I may be rubbish)

The dilemma then as a directory owner is do I cater for the business owner (as they pay the wages) or the end user?
 

Zhivko

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
37
@David W Cox Thank you. I had a look at home advisor. I like how they organised their search, even though the questions they ask seem a bit too much... But perhaps that lets them deliver super precise results. Since our directory is only for dentists, we expect people to only search for a location but home advisor just gave me an idea how to improve that. (It turned out it is SUPER COMPLICATED to deal with different cities with matching names, ugh... ). As for the communication part - we sometimes call new dentists just to make sure they are real. You are right, they take it as a pleasant surprise.

@Digitaldar It is free for all - dentists and users. The site is a part of a larger eco-system and we don't aim to charge anyone. Our plan is to get dentists first (because it seems easier, faster, cheaper) and then users to find us through Google (while they search for a dentist). That's why we focus so much on SEO. At least for now.

@UKSBD Yes, very well put. It is like building two completely different websites serving two completely different services for two completely different audiences. Except that is is one site. :D
 

Zhivko

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
37
@David W Cox It is already available at reviews.dentacoin.com

I'd love to hear your feedback on the registration process, we are trying to make it simpler and easier but it is hard because we also want to make sure all new registered dentists are real... If you PM me (so we don't flood the topic) that would be great!

Thanks!
 

JoyHawkins

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Jul 18, 2012
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Zhivko,

Does the profile the doctor creates get them a link? I know that would likely be way more of an incentive for people to set up profiles. I'm not seeing a link to their website on the ones I looked at.
 

David W Cox

Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
10
Zhivko,
I do not have a contact number for you and no phone number on site so that can be a trust factor for users. I also was wondering why you are not prepopulating the site with data that is public. Then you could let the known listings be claimed. The signup process is not hard. I did find two listings in CT with links I did not find any nofollow on the page so that should help the value to the to the as joy said.
 

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