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WordPress vs Wagtail

Publishers Are Choosing WordPress Over Wagtail — Here’s Why

Digital publishers who are looking for self-hosted content management systems have dozens of options to choose from, but WordPress has become the de facto choice for anyone who is serious about online publishing. Why is that, and what makes the WordPress (WP) platform a better fit for publishers than Wagtail?

In this article, we will take a look at both self-hosted content management systems. We will discuss what WordPress and Wagtail are, what makes each platform unique, and why so many publishers are opting for WordPress over Wagtail.

What Is WordPress?

On WordPress’ own website, the company describes itself as open source software that publishers can use to create beautiful websites, blogs, and apps. Sixty million people have chosen to use WP, and the company’s self-hosted content management system now powers 32% of the web. That figure encompasses everything from small hobby blogs to some of the largest digital news websites in the world.

The basic functionality of WP is extended thanks to the 45,000+ plugins that developers have created to meet the needs of publishers. Plugins can be used to add online stores, galleries, mailing lists, forums, and thousands of other specialized features to any WP website.

WP is also home to a community of hundreds of thousands of developers, content creators, and website owners. These professionals gather at monthly meet ups in more than 400 cities.

WordPress software is not the same as WordPress.com. WP software, which is what we are discussing in this article, is a self-hosted content management system. WordPress.com is a hosted WP environment that is run on a modified version of WP and owned by Automattic.

WordPress

How WordPress Works

Publishers can use WordPress software to create any type of website. Personal blogs, business websites, professional portfolios, government websites, digital magazines, news websites, online communities, and even networks of websites can all be created with WP.

Nearly everyone has heard about WordPress’ five-minute installation at this point. It’s a big selling feature, and that’s for good reason. TheWP platform is setup to put users at ease, with a navigation system that is incredibly intuitive.

Although WP comes bundled with two default themes, the majority of publishers use WordPress’ theme directory when they setup their websites. WordPress’ theme directory has thousands of themes to choose from, each giving websites a different flare. The company has also made it easy for publishers to upload their own themes in order to give their websites complete makeovers.

Using WordPress’ straightforward publishing tools, content creators can generate pages and posts in minutes. Individual pages and posts are then formatted, media is inserted, and the content goes live on the website. Well-designed publishing tools allow writers to create drafts, schedule publication, and look at post revisions through their content management system. WordPress websites are optimized for search engines right out of the box. SEO plugins are also available. (We’ll dig deeper into plugins a little later in this article.)

Complete flexibility means publishers who use WP have the option to keep their content private or make it public. Passwords can be setup to keep posts and pages secure. Individual user accounts can also be created to give administrators, editors, authors, and contributors unique levels of access.

Upgraded functionalities, like complex galleries, social networking, forums, social media widgets, spam protection, forms, and calendars, are all managed through plugins. These plugins are made available through WordPress’ plugin directory.

What Is Wagtail?

Wagtail is an open source content management system that was started in 2014 by the digital agency Torchbox. Wagtail was built on the Django framework. Wagtail is written in the Python programming language and maintained by a small team of contributors. The platform was originally built for the Royal College of Art.

Wagtail integrates into publishers’ existing CRM and marketing automation platforms, as well as a handful of ticketing, payment fulfillment, and event management systems. New versions of Wagtail come out every two months, with a mixture of upgraded features and improvements.

Wagtail

How Wagtail Works

Websites built on Wagtail’s content management system are organized into sequences of blocks, which developers use to rearrange different types of content. That process can seem too advanced to publishers who are just launching their websites or learning about how to build websites for the first time. Most publishers will find that Wagtail requires a level of user sophistication that they are not prepared for.

Because Wagtail was made with sophisticated developers in mind, the platform is not always intuitive. It does, however, work with some of the third-party tools that developers regularly use. Anything a developer can do in Python—including machine learning, image manipulation, and PDF generation—can be done in Wagtail.

Those publishers who feel comfortable digging around under the hood can use Wagtail’s A/B testing feature to optimize their clients’ websites. This is something that’s usually reserved for closed-source enterprise content management systems. Wagtail also offers a built-in API and a templating system.

WordPress vs. Wagtail

Given that WordPress and Wagtail offer a number of similar features, there is a question of which self-hosted content management system is better for digital publishers.

The truth is, almost anything that can be done on Wagtail can also be done on WP. The only difference is that WordPress makes it easier and cheaper. Newcomers appreciate WP because the software itself is incredibly simple. This simplicity allows them to get started quickly, with minimal setup and hassles. And to top it off, WordPress has a much lower total cost of ownership.

The day-to-day publishing experience onWP is far beyond what Wagtail can provide. Thanks in large part to WordPress’ incredible community of hundreds of thousands of developers, publishers have thousands of plugins and themes to choose from. These plugins and themes can transform their websites into anything under the sun.

WordPress has far greater adoption for a reason. Nearly 5,000 companies on StackShare use WP, compared to just 6 that use Wagtail.WP is used by global powerhouses like eBay, Mozilla, TechCrunch, and 37Signals.

Among publishing industry veterans, WP has become the de facto choice because of its product feature set, as well as its reliability and its community of hundreds of thousands of developers and content creators. The availability of reliable WordPress developers is so far beyond the number of reliable python developers, that it doesn’t make sense for publishers to lock themselves in to a system that will be harder and more expensive to manage.

With so few developers on board, it can take Wagtail a long time to release new updates. The company itself says it releases new versions once every two months.

WordPress vs Wagtail Stack

 

Why Do Publishers Prefer WordPress over Wagtail?

WordPress has greater adoption and it is far more utilized for a reason. The platform is dead simple to use, and it can be customized as much as publishers want. Most novice publishers feel that they have nothing to lose by starting out on the WP platform. The platform itself is completely free. A number of the plugins that make websites more customized are free, as well.

In comparing WordPress to Wagtail, it’s clear that these platforms have very different end users in mind. Wagtail’s focus is much more on sophisticated developers, and publishers without extensive technology backgrounds can find the platform difficult to use. WP is straightforward enough that anyone should be able to use the content management system, not just web professionals. Non-tech colleagues—such as writers, editors, and other company administrators—should be able to update website content and add blog posts on their own when they are using WordPress.

Publishers, in particular, tend to be very concerned with search engine optimization. With WordPress, publishers can create readable permalinks to individual pages and blog posts. They can also install themes designed to meet the latest best practices for SEO.

Publishers who use WordPress are able to do everything they can with Wagtail — and much more. Thousands of plugins and themes fill the gaps for WordPress users. Because Wagtail’s developer community is much smaller, those options and capabilities are just not available.

These are specific things that WordPress does particularly well, leading many publishers to choose WordPress over other content management systems.

• Completely customizable
• Websites are simple to manage
• Thousands of plugins and themes
• Packed with features for every user
• Rapid website development
• Generates code in full compliance with standards set by the W3C
• Large developer community

When Is WordPress the Best Fit?

The vast majority of publishers will find that WP provides them with more options for customization and a greater level of flexibility. WP is built to help people get their websites up and their content out to the public. That means websites with a substantial blog component, with basic information architecture, work particularly well with the WordPress platform.

Picking from WordPress’ extensive plugin directory, publishers can add any number of features to their websites. They can even fine-tune their search engine optimization without relying on outside experts for support.

When Is Wagtail the Best Fit?

Unfortunately, Wagtail is almost never a better fit for publishers than WordPress. Wagtail generally requires long timelines, something developers and publishers rarely have, and it lacks the simplicity in design of WordPress. Overly-complicated features can make Wagtail challenging for publishers to use, as well.

The Wagtail platform is very young, which means it hasn’t been tested nearly as extensively as WP. Youth can give some software developers an edge, but not in this case. Developers can’t afford to leave their website performance up to chance, and using a platform that hasn’t been around for many years is a risk that developers should not be willing to take.

Finally, Wagtail’s developer community is still much smaller than WordPress’. The developer community that WP has cultivated over the years as impressive in its size and depth. Publishers should think long and hard about whether they are willing to take the risk of using a platform that so few developers are willing to be a part of.

Conclusion

Publishers will find that WordPress offers more of the features they are looking for, without the complexities that they are hoping to avoid.

Although there was once a perception that WP was designed for publishers looking for quick and simple setups, this is no longer the case. WordPress’ plugins make it ideal for larger projects, as well as smaller projects. WordPress’ large developer community helps to keep the platform fresh, and underlying worries about security and slow load times are minimized.

Local SEO tips for directory publishers

Local SEO Tips for Directory Publishers

Are you looking for new ways to increase your visibility in local search results? Then let’s talk about local SEO tips for directory publishers.

Local SEO is all about optimizing websites to rank better for local audiences. This is true for any digital publisher, but particular those with directory websites.

Why is that, you ask? For starters, a significant percentage of directory websites are locally focused. Business directories are an obvious example here. Most business directories are focused on a particular city or region. That makes business directories, at their core, locally centered websites. The same can be said for many different types of online directories. Regardless of the primary focus—restaurants, job listings, etc.—the secondary focus is location.

When someone searches for “best doctor in [city],” we want them to arrive at our client’s online directory, not a website run by a hospital or physician practice. How do we make that happen? Local SEO is the key. Following best practices for local SEO, we optimize directory websites for city-specific or region-specific audiences.

What Is Local SEO?

Local SEO is how we get online directories to rank better for local audiences. In order to do that, we need to optimize each listing for the city name and address, essentially making sure that search engines like Google and Bing know where to find the businesses mentioned in each listing.
Businesses optimize their own websites for local SEO all the time. They do this to ensure that customers can find their storefronts in real life. But publishers, who are not looking to get web visitors into their own offices, should still be targeting people located in the same geographic area as the businesses featured in their online directories.

Local SEO Tips

Now that you understand what local SEO is, and why local SEO is important for directory publishers, let’s get into the nitty gritty and talk about what you can do to improve the local SEO on your directory website.

These strategies are regarded as “first steps” for directory publishers targeting audiences in specific locations.

  • Include a proper address for each directory listing using schema.org formatting.
  • Ask your web developer to add the city and state to the titles and meta description tags for directory listings.
  • Make sure the city or region is mentioned frequently in directory content, including any business descriptions.
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
  • Add ratings and reviews to your website, if possible.

Fewer than one-in-five marketers incorporate schema markup on their websites, which could be one of the reasons why they are struggling with local SEO. Incorporating proper schema markup is one of the ways that we can communicate the focus of the online directory—businesses in a particular location—to search engines. It makes the online directory more relevant to whichever local keywords you are targeting, as well.

Keep local SEO in mind when generating content for new listing pages. One strategy here is to insert the business location as close as possible to the top of each directory page. This ensures that the city not missing from search results when someone types in a phrase like “best restaurants in Los Angeles.”

Don’t forget about link building, either. Online directories are well positioned to build the types of positive connections that search engines love. Always include links to each business’ website on listing pages. You should also be encouraging business owners to add links to your directory from their own business websites and social media pages. Digital publishers with properties outside of their online directories—for example, those that also publisher online newspapers or magazines—should take advantage by including links to directory listings any time a specific business is mentioned in an article.

Including Maps in Business Listings

What do the most well-known business directories in the U.S. have in common? Those sites almost all include maps on individual listing pages.

Yelp, Whitepages, YP, and Mapquest have pioneered the use of maps in online directories. And why not? If you’ve followed the local SEO tips outlined above, you’ve already added an address for each business listing in your directory. That means you already have all the data you need to include a map on each listing page.

Google Maps is the most well-known of the mapping solutions, but a number of other plugins are available for directory publishers with WordPress websites. Just make sure that the directory software you purchase is capable of including maps on listings pages, as this is not something that every directory platforms can handle.

job board subscriptions

How Dynamic Paywalls Boost Job Board Subscriptions

How to use dynamic paywalls to create greater demand for your job board subscriptions program.

When The New York Times announced recently that it was introducing dynamic paywalls as a way to boost subscriber growth, digital publishers sat up and took notice. The decision to alter the user experience depending on where visitors are at in the purchasing funnel is something that has gained popularity over the past year, with publishers like The Wall Street Journal and Hearst Newspapers trying similar tactics.

Dynamic paywalls can lead to significant improvements in conversion rates, and they’re just one strategy The New York Times is adopting as it looks to turn more casual readers into paying subscribers.

Can publishers with job boards benefit from the same tactics? You bet.

Job board subscriptions work slightly differently than newspaper subscriptions. Rather than targeting job seekers, aka general website visitors, publishers selling job board subscriptions target employers and recruiters.

Instead of paying to post listings on an individual basis, employers sign up for subscription programs to place a certain number of listings on the board each month.

Job board subscriptions work like package deals, but often come with extra benefits. For example, companies that subscribe might get discounts with preferred vendors or access to exclusive webinars with insights into how they can improve their listings. Some job board publishers also offer premium listing placement to subscribers who sign up for year-long subscriptions.

Job board subscriptions have become popular among niche publishers, particularly in so-called “prestige” industries, like healthcare and law. The strategy is less common on general interest job boards, since employers could theoretically target those job seekers without having to pay for access.

Publishers have the most success selling their subscription packages when they can demonstrate to employers that their audience is uniquely targeted to a specific demographic or industry. For example, LawJobs.com, a directory for legal professionals, recruiters, and job seekers, boasts that its network reaches 99% of the nation’s largest law firms. Knowing that their listings are going to be seen by qualified legal professionals who are interested in new opportunities, employers are more apt to pay for LawJobs.com subscriptions. The site sells employer packages that range in price from $695 to $995 per month.

Although some job boards prevent non-subscribers from posting any content, that strategy is not as common among today’s publishers as dynamic paywalls or flexible programs. If publishers prevent visitors from posting or viewing any content before signing up, they run the risk of people leaving their sites before they understand the value of the product.

Where is the sweet spot when it comes to paywalls and job board subscriptions?

Strict paywalls sacrifice awareness and audience development for revenue. On the other hand, jobs boards that don’t charge for listings are missing out on a lucrative revenue channel. Dynamic paywalls give publishers an alternative option that sits somewhere in the middle between those two extremes.

The New York Times is hoping that increasing its meter level will cause visitors who’ve been sitting on the sidelines to finally subscribe.

The National Association of Physician Recruiters, non-profit trade organization for professionals in the physician and clinician recruitment industry, offers vendor discounts on job boards and client lists as a benefit to those employers who subscribe.

Another healthcare-focused publisher, HospitalRecruiting.com, gives employers the option to choose from single-use or subscription advertising packages. Employers who sign up for HospitalRecruiting.com’s job board subscriptions can add and remove jobs freely on the site, but it does require a three-month initial commitment.

Encouraging job seekers to subscribe to a job board is generally a more difficult task, especially if the subscription comes with a high price tag. Nonetheless, there are a number of job boards out there that have been successful with this strategy. Usually, these job boards give online visitors free access to a certain number of basic listings, but they require subscriptions for more detailed information, like the name of the company or contact details for the hiring manager. Paying subscribers can usually upload their own resumes to the site, as well.

Of course, it should be noted that not all directory publishing software supports subscription programs. It is important to look into whether these types of monetization features are available when selecting the software for your own job board.

If you’d like to learn even more dynamic paywalls and the subscription program strategies working best for job board publishers in today’s business environment, let’s chat.

directory publishers analytics metrics

The Most Important Analytics Metrics for Directory Publishers

Important decisions shouldn’t be left up to gut feelings. Using analytics metrics, directory publishers can get a big picture view of how their websites are performing and where areas for new opportunities exist.

Directory publishers don’t just have to worry about search engine traffic and visitor engagement, although those are powerful factors that can play a major role in impacting the bottom line. They also have to think about advertisers and the businesses signing up for paid listings. The latest analytics metrics give directory publishers insights into how visitors and advertisers are finding their websites and what makes them convert.

The goal here is twofold. Directory publishers want to use analytics metrics to make smarter business decisions, and they want to gain a deeper understanding of how visitors and paying advertisers are using their directory websites. Let’s take a closer look at what that means.

1. Top Keywords

How are people finding your directory? The answer may not be what you think. Using Google Webmaster Tools, directory publishers can find out what keywords are driving the most traffic to their sites. Navigate to Search Traffic, then Search Queries to see a list of the keywords driving traffic to your directory. You should see the click-through rate for each of these top keywords, letting you know how often someone clicked on your directory over another Google listing. Another option here is to use Google Analytics. Click over to Acquisition, then All Traffic, then Channels, then Organic Search.

Most directory publishers see 75% to 90% of their search volume coming through the top 200 phrases. For example, publishers with restaurant directories may find that most people are landing on their sites after typing Top [City] Restaurants or the name of a specific restaurant with a listing on the directory.

Regardless of what you discover through keyword analytics, you’ll want to use the information to optimize your content and take advantage of the keywords people are using.

2. Visitor Engagement

Clicks, shares, and time on page are all trackable metrics that directory publishers can look at as they gauge visitor engagement on their websites.

While engagement is often confused with reach, particularly when it comes to analytics metrics for online directories, they actually tell us two very different things. A directory’s reach is determined based on the number of people who see it, even if they only see it for a moment. Publishers can boost their reach by using clickbait headlines or landing pages that are only minimally related to the content in their directories. Are those stunts worthwhile in the long run? Probably not. Visitors who arrive at a directory under false pretenses—for example, thinking they are getting restaurant coupons when they are actually just seeing business listings—are likely to leave quickly and not return.

Engagement is something else entirely, and there’s a reason why we encourage directory publishers to focus on engagement over reach. Tracking engagement means looking at how involved visitors are with the content in a directory. There’s a number of ways to measure that. One idea is to track comments and shares. People don’t usually leave comments unless they are legitimately interested in the content. Tracking how commenting ebbs and flows over time, and which directory pages are receiving the most comments, can provide you with insight into how you should format landing pages or promote your most popular directory listings.

Another option here is to track scroll depth. Scroll depth means how far down a webpage a visitor scrolls. If a visitor is scrolling down to the bottom of a “Best Of” list or a directory listing, there is a good chance he is engaged with the content.

3. Email Capture Rates

Many directory publishers use email marketing to bring visitors, and advertisers, back to their websites. For these publishers, website email capture rates show how what percentage of website visitors are subscribing.

Determining a website email capture rate is fairly straightforward. Just divide the number of new email subscribers acquired via the directory website over a period of time (one week or one month) by the total number of unique visitors during the same time period.

Let’s say that through this process, a publisher learns that .1% of the visitors coming to his business directory are signing up to receive a monthly email newsletter. The next question is, how do you increase web-to-email conversion rates? A little bit of A/B testing can help determine whether simple changes to capture forms or landing pages could be enough to see major improvements.

What metrics do you analyze, and how could a deeper analysis of the trends lead to greater revenue on your directory? We’d love to learn more about what you’re doing and how we could help take your online directory to the next level.

local business directory

5 Reasons to Launch a Local Business Directory

The biggest business directories in the world are generating millions of dollars in profit for online publishers.

Launching a local business directory is a no-brainer for digital publishers right now. Using sophisticated content management systems, publishers can create directories that are nearly autonomous. Self-serve portals allow businesses to generate and pay for online listings themselves, while publishers sit back and watch the profits pour in.

With a net revenue of more than $218 million last year, Yelp has become one of the most influential directory publishers for local businesses. The company saw paying advertising accounts grow 21% year-over-year, with approximately 163,000 businesses now advertising on the platform.

While those figures are substantial, they also show that there’s still plenty of room for growth in the local business directory space. The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that there are more than 30.2 million small businesses operating in the U.S., which means the advertiser market for local business directories is substantial.

Here are five reasons why digital publishers are rushing to launch local business directories — and why you might be interested in launching one of these directories, too.

1. Generating Ancillary Revenue

By far, the primary reason to launch a local business directory is to create a new form of ancillary revenue. Businesses typically pay a fee of $5 to $10 per month to have their listings included in local directories, providing digital publishers with a reliable stream of revenue that they can count on. Consider this: A local directory with 1,000 listings, charging businesses $10 per month, generates $10,000 in income for a publisher. Although there are a number of other reasons to launch a local business directory, the opportunity to create an entirely new stream of ancillary revenue is something that most publishers can’t afford to overlook.

2. Providing Advertisers With More Options

A growing number of advertisers are moving away from display advertising, fearing that the medium itself has gotten stale. Instead, they are pushing for more unique, relevant advertising experiences. Sponsorships and paid listings are just two examples of “new” advertising avenues that businesses are excited to explore. Sponsorships, in particular, can be lucrative for digital publishers, since advertisers will pay a premium to ensure their logos are the only ones featured on the directory’s homepage for a given period of time.

3. Increasing Search Traffic

Search engines like Google and Bing love online directories, thanks in part to their local focus and keyword-rich listings. The smartest digital publishers are capitalizing on the search traffic that their business directories bring in and converting those visitors into readers of their publications. “Related Content” tags and links to articles about the businesses featured in each listing are two examples of ways that digital magazine publishers are bringing directory visitors over to their publications.

4. Reinvigorating Subscription Programs

Online subscriptions can be a hard sell, especially for digital publishers that already give away a certain amount of content for free and those that rely on display advertising for revenue. Instead of placing a paywall around their articles, some publishers are giving subscribers access to VIP benefits or services. One of these benefits can be a subscribers-only directory. This strategy works better for niche publishers (such as industry-specific online magazines) than local newspapers, but it’s still a concept worth exploring for any publishers looking to increase the value of their subscription programs.

5. Building Connections in the Community

Although we focus a lot on the revenue that online directories generate, the reality is that a local business directory is more than just an advertising service. Like community calendars—which we’ve written about previously—business directories actually serve an important function in local communities. In smaller towns, especially, a local business directory can become a hub of information for both everyday citizens and business owners.

If you have already launched a local business directory, reach out and tell us why you decided to jump onboard. We’re always interested in learning about other publishers’ experiences with emerging platforms.

online calendars

How to Generate Traffic with Online Calendars

Online calendars promote digital engagement and keep visitors coming back for more. So why aren’t more digital publishers launching their own calendar products?

The answer, it seems, is a lack of awareness. At this point, the majority of digital publishers understand the benefits of add-on products. Business directories, job boards, and sponsored content are just a few of the ways that publishers are generating ancillary streams of revenue. But the most effective solution of all is also the one publishers know the least about.

Online calendars are usable, they are linkable, and they create a reason for website visitors to keep checking back for new information.

What Is an Online Calendar?

We all know what a personal calendar looks like. Most of us probably have Google Calendar or another calendar app on our smartphones. The online calendars that digital publishers are launching right now are a little different.

Depending on the publisher’s genre or niche, an online calendar will include listings for events happening in a particular location or industry. For example, a city magazine’s online calendar would likely include listings for upcoming theater shows and community events. A healthcare publisher’s calendar, meanwhile, would include listings for upcoming conferences and professional association meetings located around the globe.

In both of these instances, the publishers’ online calendars are free to users. Publishers can decide whether listings should be added for free, or whether they want to charge a nominal fee.

Event listings in an online calendar almost always include a catchy title, along with information like the date, time, location, and sponsoring organization. Many publishers will give organizations a way to upload related photos or videos to their event listings for an extra fee.

Publishers with the most sophisticated calendar systems give users the ability to add events to their personal Google calendars or export to other calendar apps.

How Do Publishers Use Online Calendars?

Digital publishers use online calendars as a way to generate revenue. They also use them to satisfy reader demand for local content, and to bring in more readers through search engine traffic.

Online calendars don’t cost a lot of money to put together, and they can usually be managed in just a few hours a week.

Most publishers allow organizations to add listings for free through a self-service portal. Depending on the monetization strategy, some publishers will also offer a full service option, manually creating listings for organizations in exchange for a one-time fee.

Publishers who don’t charge organizations to list events on their online calendars will typically support their calendars through business sponsorship. Local businesses will pay a premium to have their banner ads or display advertising run alongside a popular community calendar. Another sponsorship option, although lesser used, is to make sponsors’ listings visible whenever users search for events in specific locations or categories.

What Is a Premium Calendar?

A premium calendar is one that users must pay to access. Very rarely do community calendars fall into this category. It’s more common for industry-specific publishers to host premium calendars that are exclusive to their subscribers.

Do Online Calendars Generate Traffic?

Online calendars are not difficult to implement, and they can become a valuable resource for online audiences.

While the content in calendar listings will have minimal value from an SEO perspective, online calendars can still be excellent generators of inbound links. They are also known to generate substantial referral traffic, particularly for digital publishers with city and regional magazines or industry publications.

Because the content contained in most online calendars is limited, we recommend that publishers look for opportunities to link their calendars back to their original websites. For example, a listing for an upcoming theater production could link back to a review of that production or an article about the history of the theater itself.

Following the best practices for SEO is important when building an online calendar, but so is word-of-mouth. Community calendars are a valuable resource for people in local communities, and they offer yet another way for publishers to connect with their audience and provide a centralized source of information. How publishers ultimately chose to monetize that information—whether it’s through paid listings, display advertising, or sponsored search results—depends on their target audience and unique goals.

optimized job boards

The Secret to Well-Optimized Job Boards

It’s incredible to look back over the past year and see how many digital publishers are launching job boards for the very first time.

There was a time, not long ago, when display advertising was the primary revenue stream for publishers, but that is no longer true. Today’s forward-thinking publishers are launching optimized job boards and business directories, publishing ebooks, and even hosting live events in an effort to satisfy reader demands and generate new streams of revenue.

Today, it’s almost a given that city and regional magazines will have job boards. But creativity among niche publishers is paving the way for a new type of job board that’s often driven not by location, but by interest or occupation.

Regardless of the job board’s area of focus, there remain some challenges that publishers of all types are trying to find answers to. One of the most common questions that we hear at Web Publisher PRO is how job boards should be optimized, not just to rank highly in the search results on Google and Bing, but also for consumer use.

When publishers launch their own job boards, it’s important to have a consistent and well-optimized structure. If job seekers are interested in using your website to search for new opportunities, they will go into research mode looking for every bit of information. Is your job board optimized to give those job seekers the information they are looking for?

Employers play a role here, as well. After all, it’s employers and recruiters who pay to publish listings on most online job boards. If employers don’t feel like their listings are being optimized and published in a way that makes them easy to find and understand, they aren’t going to pay to promote those listings on your website.

Optimized Job Boards

Put yourself in the job seeker’s shoes. What does he or she want out of an online job board? As you build your job listings template, always keep those users in mind. Most people using the search function on optimized job boards will search for specific types of jobs, experience, type of company, or type of industry. Because of this, it’s a good idea to include all of that information in the title tags on your listings.

Job listings should be treated like individual landing pages, giving users enough information to learn about the opportunity and also including relevant keywords.

What Data Should Job Listings Include?

At the very minimum, all listings on optimized job boards should include the following:

  • Name of the business or organization with the job opening
  • Title of the job (for example, “insurance agent” or “registered nurse”)
  • Basic job description, including responsibilities, qualifications, education, and experience needed
  • Posting date for the job
  • Location information, including the full address of the company
  • Expiration date for the job listing

We’re seeing more and more optimized job boards include maps to go along with individual listings, as well. While this is certainly not a requirement, it improves the likelihood of a high Google ranking and, on a basic level, it makes the listing more functional for job seekers who might be interested only in opportunities located in specific areas. It may make sense to lead category pages with location, even for city and regional magazine publishers.

Job Board Best Practices

Optimized job boards are designed in a way that allow people to navigate naturally from listing to listing.

When a job board has an organized category structure, people can more easily browse through listings that meet their requirements. (For example, location or department.)

In addition to having an organized category structure, we also recommend that job roles be broken down by department structure and then grouped together. This allows someone searching for opportunities in Human Resources, for example, to skim through openings in that department.

Can Google Find Your Listings?

Search engine optimization plays an important role in how well-optimized job boards are structured. If Google’s web crawler can’t access the listings because your host load settings don’t allow for frequent crawls, then you’re dead in the water.

To ensure that doesn’t happen, make your job listings indexable and follow basic SEO best practices. Collect the right pieces of data—your webmaster can handle this, but you may also need to be involved—and place your content as structured data in your job description pages.

Google has posted its own job posting structured data guidelines. It’s worth taking a look at these guidelines and making sure that your optimized job boards are keeping up with the standards. Following Google’s structured data guidelines is the most reliable way to make sure people will be able to find your job board online.

how to use directories to boost search traffic

Using Directories to Boost Search Traffic

Prominent directory websites like Yelp, YP.com, and Whitepages receive millions of site visits each month, but you don’t have to be one of the “big guys” to benefit from Google’s preference for directory websites.

Digital publishers use directories to boost search traffic on their own websites all the time. It’s a strategy that’s been used for years, and it’s one that becoming even more effective as search engines like Google and Bing refine their algorithms to give more preference to websites with local information.

The key to using directories to boost search traffic is to make sure your directories are created with the right structures and subdomains for successful search engine optimization (SEO). Without the right structure, Google can’t synthesize the information, and it’s unlikely that your directory will rank highly enough to generate substantial search engine traffic.

It’s been a few years now since Google launched it Pigeon Update in 2014. The update involved the creation of a new algorithm that intends to provide more useful, accurate local search results. What most digital publishers noticed about the update was that it placed an increase emphasis on local content and created greater visibility for online directories.

Mobile’s Impact on Online Directories

The rise in mobile search plays a role here, as well. Mobile usage is now surpassing desktop. As more people started searching for content on their smartphones, Google placed a greater emphasis on location. That’s part of the reason why typing in “Italian restaurant” on your phone will bring up listings for Italian restaurants in your own city.

According to Google, more than one-third of mobile searches are now related to local. Publishers with online directories understand this changing dynamic, and they’re adjusting the way their websites are structured so that they can use their directories to boost search traffic.

Optimizing Directories for SEO

Publishers have the most success using directories to boost search traffic when they optimize their content for local search. That means including local keywords in business listings, and it also means localizing schema markup.

Incorporating schema in a website lets Google know the focus of the content and the geographic area you’re trying to serve. Although schema is not directly tied to search rankings, it is tied to local targeting, and we know that local is something Google cares a lot about right now.

Unfortunately, fewer than one-in-five publishers have incorporated schema markup into their websites. That could be making it harder for their directories to rank in search engine listings, and ultimately decreasing the revenue they’re able to generate through advertising on their sites.

So what’s the answer here? How can you start using directories to boost search traffic?

A great place to begin is by inserting local keywords into the title and meta description tags. You should also make sure your business listings include long-tail keywords whenever possible. For example, rather than titling a list “Best Restaurants” you would want to title it, “Phoenix’s Best Restaurants.” And of course, each individual business listing should include local information, such as addresses and phone numbers. This helps Google index the content for the geographic area.

Some SEO experts will also recommend updating NAP information (name, address, phone number) for each listing, including businesses with multiple locations.

One thing we haven’t touched on yet, even though it directly impacts your ability to use directories to boost search traffic, is consumer behavior. Are consumers actually researching the topics covered by your online directory? Is there enough search volume, for example, to sustain an online directory that exclusively focuses on shoe stores in Santa Ana, California?

The best way to know for sure is to take a look at Google’s Keyword Planner, as well as your own website traffic data and performance. Which keywords are people using in search before they land on your website? If there are thousands of people searching for shoe stores your city, and they’re all coming to an article in your digital magazine that contains those keywords, then maybe there is enough interest there to sustain such a hyper-focused online directory.

What you’re more likely to find, though, is that that there isn’t enough traffic to support the creation of a narrowly-focused online directory, and you would be better off creating something more broad, but still with a local focus.

For more details on what’s involved in creating an online directory reach out to our team here at Web Publisher PRO.

Digital Publishing Industry

These 5 Strategies Are Revitalizing the Digital Publishing Industry

Bring together the leaders of news organizations, platforms, and foundations, and you’re bound to get some honest opinions on the state of digital journalism. Rather than focus on dire predictions for the future, the dozens of industry executives brought together earlier this year by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard and the Lenfest Institute expressed an optimistic view of the future of digital publishing.

Publishing executives at the Shorenstein Center’s event agreed that reader revenue should be at the heart of sustainable business models for digital journalism, but they also acknowledged that newer strategies need to be explored in order for the industry to flourish. Revitalizing the digital publishing industry will require more than just the tried and true tactics for generating revenue online.

Advertising and reader subscriptions are still important, of course, but the industry group put together by the Shorenstein Center and the Lenfest Institute also came up with five new opportunities for publishers looking to grow sustainable businesses.

Let’s take a closer look at the areas of opportunity identified by this group of 63 industry leaders.

1. “Diversifying and strengthening revenue streams for journalism”

Despite the group’s instance that reader revenue should remain at the center of all sustainable business models, there was a lot of optimism around the idea that publishers can successfully drive support for their publications in different ways. There was also some acceptance among industry leaders that traditional revenue streams, including display advertising and reader subscriptions, are no longer enough to support digital publishing businesses on their own.

Diversification is something we’ve discussed quite a bit here at Web Publisher PRO. Our interest in diversifying digital publishers’ revenue streams is one of the reasons why we encourage our publishing clients to explore new opportunities, such as launching business directories, membership programs, and producing sponsored content for selected advertisers. Participants in the Shorenstein Center’s roundtable highlighted these strategies, as well as live events and direct public offerings, as potential solutions for digital publishing companies looking for long-term profitability.

2. “Field-building to grow a culture of philanthropy”

Interest in non-profit news organizations is growing, and philanthropic individuals are primed to support digital publishers’ efforts towards creating high-quality journalism. As display advertising dwindles, industry leaders are recommending that digital publishers begin exploring outside sources of philanthropic support. Accepting contributions from individuals and charitable organizations can create some challenges, and news organizations should keep a close eye on any strings that may be attached to donations from individuals that might have specific agendas.

3. “Finding and seeding growth capital for mission-driven journalism enterprises”

One of the hottest topics among attendees was about providing digital journalism startups with the resources they need to succeed.

Industry leaders say they have seen digital publishing startups struggle when they accept funding from firms with vastly different strategies for growth. One of the most substantial opportunities to come out of the Shorenstein Center’s roundtable involved the idea of an industry group creating a “Crunchbase for investors.” This website would connect investors and charitable groups with digital publishing organizations that have similar missions or goals.

4. “Growing the next generation of publishers in business acumen and leadership abilities”

Industry leaders agreed that it’s time for journalism schools to reimagine their curriculum, with a greater emphasis on business courses and financial education. One way to encourage this would be with the creation of more business-focused journalism fellowships, similar to Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and UNC School of Media and Journalism’s business journalism program. Obtaining an MBA for journalism would give future digital publishers greater insights into how to turn around struggling companies and ultimately create the types of media organizations that could revitalize the digital publishing industry as a whole.

5. “Building products to increase revenue and engagement”

The final opportunity for revitalizing the digital publishing industry happens to be the one we’re most interested in here at Web Publisher PRO. That’s because we believe strongly that the key to growing this industry is introducing new products designed to increase revenue and engagement. Online directories, “best of” lists, community calendars, and jobs boards are just a few examples of the types of low-cost publishing tools that make sense for digital publishers interested in new streams of ancillary revenue.

If you’d like more information about the latest products we’re recommending for digital publishers of all sizes, we’d love to connect and offer some of our insights.

directory landing pages

How to Create Directory Landing Pages

Businesses will pay top dollar for landing pages that go along with their listings in online directories. In order to be effective from a traffic and conversion standpoint, directory landing pages should include a few key ingredients.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk a little about what directory landing pages actually are. Directory landing pages are also called business profile pages. When people visiting an online business directory click on a listing—for example, the name of a restaurant or a retail store—they aren’t typically directed to that business’ website. They’re usually taken to a landing page hosted by the directory publisher.

Directory landing pages highlight a business’ best attributes, and they can help with search engine optimization. In addition to the organic visibility of the landing page itself, outbound links make it easier for consumers to find the business’ traditional website.

What Should Directory Landing Pages Include?

Think of directory landing pages as online billboards, promoting the best features of a company. Directory landing pages should include profile photos, or logos, and much of the same basic business information that shows up on a business’ Google My Business listing.

For a good example of a directory landing page, check out D Magazine’s business directory. Restaurant landing pages include business addresses, hours of operation, official website links, categories, brief profiles, special features (such as catering or delivery), reservation information, payment types accepted, and price range. When relevant, landing pages in D Magazine’s directory also include links to awards that businesses have received from the magazine, such as the Readers Choice award or the Restaurant Design award. Including those links keeps visitors engaged in the digital magazine’s website.

The best directory landing pages are mobile-friendly and optimized for search engines. According to a 2018 survey, 76% of top landing pages have location in the title tag and 66% have the business name in the title tag. One-quarter of top landing pages also include at least one video. (We’ll dig deeper into that later in this article.)

Publishers are granted a lot of leeway in deciding how much content they want on to feature on their directory landing pages. Most landing pages contain somewhere between 400 and 700 words.

What to Charge for a Directory Landing Page

The price a publisher charges to create directory landing pages should be commiserate with the price of directory listings and the overall time involved in creating individual pages.

First let’s start with the business directory itself. A publisher that charges businesses $20 per month for inclusion in an online directory can charge more for landing pages than a publisher that only charges businesses $5 per month. In order to justify the higher price tag, publishers should rely on web analytics. Showing the actual number of website visitors, along with conversion and engagement rates, digital publishers can demonstrate the value their online directories provide to businesses.

The next part of the equation has to do with the time involved in creating directory landing pages. How involved is each page, and how much original content had to be created by the publisher? Some publishers hire writers to create distinctive profiles for each business, usually ranging from 150 to 250 words long. While brief, these profiles are an excellent advertising technique and businesses are usually willing to pay for that feature.

Other features that might justify a higher price tag for a directory landing page include design customization, additional images, and any one-on-one conversations that took place as the business owner described what he or she was looking for. The more unique a publisher is willing to be in creating individual landing pages for businesses, the higher the final price tag.

Directory landing pages are an excellent place to post videos, which a publisher’s advertising department should create as part of the directory sales package. Videos can be setup as brief commercials or they can be documentary style, showcasing a day in the life of an employee at the business. The sky is the limit here. In any event, the business landing page is typically the place videos would be posted. Promotional videos are an add-on for publishers looking to generate more income from their business directories.

If you’d like to learn even more about how to create directory landing pages for your business directory, reach out to our team here at Web Publisher PRO.