Rationales for starting a web directory

By | April 17, 2007

Directories are a dime a dozen these days, it seems every webmaster is either starting one or ending one. So why start a directory when every webmaster and his cat are also having one? Picture it this way; as long as there is such a thing as Page Rank, then directories will continue to be born every day.

I figure that Google will not devalue directories totally either in the near or far off future, because that would also mean a devaluation of directory pillars like Dmoz and Yahoo Directory. What new changes take place is beyond any webmaster or SEOer to predict, but one criterion for valuation of a directory may well be incoming versus outbound links.

The basic thinking is that inbound links must far exceed outbound links; otherwise it may be considered just an uptown link farm in the eyes of the search engines. That is why big commercial directories are forever buying and building backlinks, with the sole purpose, to rank in Google. The costs for running a quality directory can be quite substantial, if you’re buying links every day.

With so many directories on the net, does it make sense to start another directory? First of all, we need to consider that the web has extremely close ties with directories, and that was before Google. Directories originally served the purpose of providing the Search Engines and people with a means to find good websites in a particular category. When search engines got better, people relied on them more than they did directories.

Search engines still trawl the top human edited directories to find good websites to index and rank, because their intelligence still cannot perceive reality as humans can. But humans have long stopped using directories to search for websites. A web directory serves no purpose today other than to provide a one way backlink (although there still exists a few that do supply traffic, I’ll talk about them some other day).

So what are the rationales in starting a web directory, for a webmaster?

  • A means to have a website that earns through charging for the right to be listed as well as banner listings. Old and strong directories can earn a good amount every month by charging webmasters for paid listings. Adsense doesn’t pay much; it’s the listings that pay the rent.
  • Directories are cornerstones in every SEO strategy, either for your own sites or for clients. As of now, a quality directory can still affect a sites ranking in the SERPs.
  • A place where you can view a collection of good quality sites to either learn or emulate from.
  • No need to worry about writing stuff. The work involved is reviewing websites, not writing anything or creating content, though you still could create and article corner on your directory. It could get boring, reviewing a lot of websites night and day.
  • High traffic. Your directory will more often than not, get high traffic so long as it’s promoted right. This traffic will be mostly webmaster traffic that are just stopping to submit their sites.
  • Make it and sell it. Many webmasters get tired of their directory and sell it off for cash, even though it earns them something per month. Typical directories usually sell for high hundreds to thousands. The usual time it took to build them up? Anything around 6 months to 2 years.

So that’s my list of the typical rationales in doing a directory. Many webmasters make the mistake of jumping into this just because “others are doing it“, lose interest and abandon their directories. So, do consider carefully before starting a directory, as it’s much harder to maintain a directory than it is to start one. Something like marriage, don’t you think?

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