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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.

job board

Does Your Digital Magazine Need a Job Board?

Could your publication be doing more to help readers?

With an online job board, digital publishers can better serve their readers and generate additional revenue at the same time.

When most people think of online job boards, they think of the standalone websites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder. These websites publisher hundreds of thousands of listings from around the globe, but they can also be too generic and unwieldy for job seekers to navigate.

Publishers with city and regional magazines, along with niche publications that focus on specific industries, are in a unique position to benefit from adding a job board to their websites. Given the professional relationships these publishers have developed with executives in the industries or areas they cover, exclusive listings and advanced notice of upcoming job openings are a distinct possibility. Recruiters also understand that a niche publication’s readers are the types of highly-qualified professionals they’re looking for, and they will pay a premium to tap into that reader database.

In most cases, city and regional magazine publishers launching job board products are selling listings through self-service portals. That means businesses can visit their websites and enter their own information about the open positions into an online form. Payments for those listings are processed online, as well. Publishers then have the opportunity to screen listings to make sure they don’t violate any policies before publishing them on their own job boards.

Smashing Magazine is an online publication for web designers and developers with its own job board. Job seekers have the opportunity to search for remote or on-location work in the design and programming fields. Finding a job on the website is free, but businesses have to pay a fee that ranges from $75 to $225 to post their opportunities for 60 days.

From an ROI standpoint, a job board presents an incredible opportunity for publishers with existing websites. Once the initial work of launching the job board is done, incremental revenue continues to roll in with minimal financial outlay. This is particularly true for publishers with self-serve portals, since businesses can upload and pay for their listings without requiring help from the publisher or his staff.

Some digital publishers are finding that add-on services can help improve ROI, as well. For example, a publisher might charge businesses $30 per month to post a job listing, with the option to pay an extra $5 per month to include a logo or $10 per month for premium placement on the job board.

Another publisher that has found success with an online job board is PracticeLink. PracticeLink publishers in print and on the web—PracticeLink Magazine and PracticeLink Online—with content geared toward helping physicians navigate the recruitment process. The publisher’s job board receives more than 1.7 million page views each month, with 5,000 hospitals, medical groups, private practices and health systems posting more than 20,000 physician job opportunities. As is the case with many other digital publishers, PracticeLink allows job seekers to search and respond to opportunities for free, while charging hospitals and medical groups for its recruitment products.

The products that PracticeLink offers go beyond what most basic job boards provide. For example, in addition to listing healthcare opportunities for a fee, PracticeLink has created an active candidate database that in-house recruiters at health care systems can use to search for physicians. The publisher also has a number of additional recruitment tools, such as conference leads and career fairs designed for recruiters at larger healthcare organizations. Part of PracticeLink’s strategy here involves offering free trial accounts for recruiters.

While PracticeLink’s job board has been fully optimized to take advantage of as many revenue generation opportunities as possible, digital publishers also have the ability to take a scaled down approach. In fact, that’s what we recommend for publishers who are just dipping their toes into this new arena.

Job boards offer total flexibility from a publisher’s perspective. With the right directory software in place, publishers can grow their boards gradually over time.

Based on our experience helping publishers launch and grow their online job boards, we’ve put together this list of things to consider:

  • Create a job board with room to grow, since there’s a good chance your board could take off among companies and job seekers in your industry.
  • Make it easy for job seekers to search for listings. The more opportunities that exist for sorting and filtering listings, the more functional a job board becomes.
  • Don’t be afraid to send emails to job seekers when new listings that fit their criteria go live on your website.
  • Provide reporting tools that companies can use to see how many people have viewed their job listings and clicked on their links. Advanced reporting tools will be increasingly necessary as your job board grows and as larger employers start putting their exclusive listings on your site.
online directories

The Three-Pronged Approach to Successful Online Directories

Online directories offer some unique benefits for digital publishers. When they’re executed and managed in the right way, online directories can generate traffic, revenue, and engagement across a publisher’s existing websites.

We’ve talked a lot about monetization strategies for online directories in previous blog posts, so you should already be familiar with the various paths toward profitability. What you may not realize is that selling listings and charging readers for access are not the only two ways to generate revenue from an online directory.

Google loves online directories. Directories that are setup using the right tagging and markup standards, and following widely recognized best practices for search engine optimization, drive traffic from Google and Bing. Even better, online directories can be setup to push traffic back to a publisher’s existing website.

Pushing traffic to a secondary website is a powerful strategy, and it’s one that is under-utilized within the digital publishing community.

Driving Traffic with Online Directories

Online directories usually contain the type of SEO-friendly information and formatting that Google loves.

Let’s say you have an online directory that’s brimming with information about all the best restaurants in your city. When people search for terms like “best restaurants in Seattle” or “best tacos in Seattle” they should see your directory rank more highly than individual restaurant websites. That’s because Google has the tendency to rank online directories high in search results—something that works in your favor as a publisher.

One of the factors at play in Google’s decision to rank online directories highly is Domain Authority. Domain Authority is determined largely by the quality of website content (which should be excellent in an online directory with hundreds or thousands of business listings), along with who is linking to the website, the total number of links, and the overall value the website provides to its users. Each website has a Domain Authority score.

There is a good chance that your directory will perform well on search engines, even without much effort, but you can still improve your rankings on Google and Bing with simple upgrades. For example, page titles and meta tags can help establish a page theme. You should also be submitting XML sitemaps to make it easier for Google and Bing to index your directory.

Increasing Engagement on Existing Websites

Now that a user has found your online directory via a search engine, the first thing she’s going to click on is a listing. Your business listings should offer up all the pertinent information, including a brief description, location, hours of operation, website link, and phone number.

In order to take advantage of the three-pronged approach to success with online directories, you always want to make sure your listings link back to your existing website whenever possible. In this case, that means including links to relevant articles that have been featured on your website, such as any reviews that have been written about a restaurant with a listing in your directory. You could also link back to image galleries or maps.

Publishers who run online magazines and blogs should consider coordinating content to promote engagement on their directories. That means making sure links to directory listings are included any time a business is mentioned in an article.

Revenue Generation Strategies

Blind luck could be responsible for an online directory having excellent traffic and engagement metrics, but generating revenue requires a strategic plan.

The majority of publishers with online directories utilize self-serve portals, where businesses can pay a nominal fee to add listings to the website. Having a self-serve system means the publisher doesn’t need to worry about staffing up a large sales team to create and publish individual listings. From an ROI standpoint, self-serve portals are always smarter for digital publishers than going the full-service route.

In addition to charging businesses for listings, publishers in certain sectors are also finding that readers are willing to pay for access to their directories. For example, a niche healthcare publisher might charge physicians to access an online directory, knowing that physicians and hospital administrators are more likely to pay for access than the general public.

Considering all the blank space available around the perimeter of most websites, publishers are also smart to run display advertising. Display advertising rates have been falling in recent years, however this is still a popular strategy for generating additional revenue.

If you’d like even more information about the three-pronged approach to success with online directories that we have developed here at Web Publisher PRO, reach out to our team for a consultation.