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Social Media for Directory Publishers

The Ultimate Social Media Checklist for Directory Publishers

If you’ve got a solid SEO strategy in place and your online directory still isn’t ranking highly in Google search results, then a lack of social media awareness could be to blame.

Many directory publishers are under the impression that organic traffic alone is enough to sustain their businesses. That may be true in some cases, but the vast majority of directory publishers need to step it up with a solid social media strategy if they want to build momentum and generate sustainable revenue from their websites. The challenge in creating an effective social media plan is often knowing where to begin.

Building a social media profile for a traditional local business, like a restaurant or a clothing store, is easy. Plenty of tools are available to help small business owners do just that. But directory publishers have a unique set of challenges as the owners of online businesses, and specific goals that they need to reach before they can consider their social media efforts a success. Getting profiles set up across all the major social media channels is just the first step.

If the thought of scheduling posts on Twitter and running ads on Facebook leaves you feeling overwhelmed, or if you’re not even sure which social media tasks you should be doing in which order, then keep reading for a step-by-step social media checklist designed specifically for directory publishers.

First Steps for Directory Publishers

Directory publishers who are still in the earliest stages of creating a social media strategy should begin by completing the following tasks:

  • Creating profiles across all relevant social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn
  • Ensuring all branding, logos, and images are consistent across social profiles
  • Promoting new social pages with links on all directory pages, as well as in any email newsletters
  • Researching the best posting times to maximize post views based on target demographics and the social media channels you’re posting on
  • Promoting new social pages with paid advertising campaigns

Daily Social Media Activities for Directory Publishers

Directory publishers should be doing the following tasks every day:

  • Replying to comments across all social media channels
  • Monitoring mentions of the directory on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
  • Reviewing the established posting calendar
  • Researching industry-related keywords and hashtags

Weekly Social Media Activities for Directory Publishers

Directory publishers should be doing the following tasks at least once each week:

  • Brainstorming new content and updating the posting schedule for the week
  • Visiting competitors’ social media pages and tracking which of their posts are receiving the most interaction
  • Reviewing any paid campaigns and tracking the results

Monthly Social Media Activities for Directory Publishers

Directory publishers should be doing the following tasks on a monthly basis:

  • Collecting monthly statistics across all active social channels
  • Analyzing which strategies are working and which are not
  • Comparing monthly page statistics against competitors’
  • Researching upcoming industry events and related news items that could be used on social channels

Quarterly Social Media Activities for Directory Publishers

Directory publishers should be doing the following tasks at least four times per year:

  • Reviewing branding and remedying any inconsistencies across social channels (for example, updating profiles with new logos or company descriptions)
  • Evaluating the past quarter’s KPIs
  • Setting goals and defining KPIs for the next quarter
  • Using a tool like SEMrush’s Social Media Poster to understand the demographics of your Facebook audience
  • Running audience analysis to ensure the right demographics are being targeted with any paid campaigns

Our goal in creating this social media checklist for directory publishers is not to make anyone feel overwhelmed. By making these tasks a regular part of your routine, the hope is that you’ll be able to easily stay current with the latest trends and be more likely to reach your target goals, whatever those goals may be.

Directory Sponsorships

Directory Sponsorships: 10 Ideas to Get More Sponsors in 2019

How do you attract sponsors to your directory website? How do you persuade local businesses that your online directory is the best place to invest their advertising dollars, and that directory sponsorships deliver a strong ROI?

First and foremost, your online directory needs to shine. The value of directory sponsorships is directly tied to the quality of the online directory. The more traffic the directory gets, the longer visitors stay on the site, and the more they engage with content, the more businesses will pay for sponsorship packages.

With only one chance to impress potential advertisers and get website sponsors signed up, it’s important that publishers seize the day and pull out all the stops.

Most directory publishers understand how important sponsorships are to their financial success. With regular website sponsors, publishers can continue growing their directories and other digital properties.

Finding businesses willing to pay for directory sponsorships, and bringing in premium rates, is challenging for publishers. What’s the key to getting local businesses interested in sponsoring your online directory? If the traffic is there, what’s preventing potential advertisers from signing on?

Here are our best tips for selling more directory sponsorships in 2019.

1. Focus on SEO. Directories that rank highly in Google and show authority on the topics they cover—local restaurants, top physicians, etc.—will be more successful in attracting sponsors who are willing to pay premium rates.

2. Develop an identity. Businesses have hundreds of options to choose from when it comes to advertising their services online. What makes your directory unique? Work to develop a strong identify for your directory right from the get-go. That identity should include cohesive branding, an area of focus, and a distinctive writing style.

3. Pinpoint dream sponsors. Make a list of every business that has advertised on your directory in the past, what they paid, and what type of advertising package they purchased. Using this list, you should be able to identify businesses that may be interesting in upgrading their advertising and purchasing directory sponsorships.

4. Get active in the community. Publishers with local business directories should pay particular attention to the communities they serve. Who are your readers and what types of businesses do they visit? These are the businesses you should be targeting with sponsorship opportunities. The more well-known the directory is in the community, and the more name recognition it has, the easier it becomes to sell sponsorship deals to area businesses.

5. Track relevant metrics. A directory’s sales team is going to have an easier time selling directory sponsorships when they are armed with the right information. Advertisers are interested in knowing how many people are visiting the directory each month and how long they are staying on the site.

6. Highlight visitor demographics. Publishers with city-specific or niche directories should highlight the demographics of their website visitors in any sales pitches to potential advertisers. Advertisers want to know that the people seeing their ads are potential customers, which might mean they live in a certain area or they share other traits, like an occupation or hobby.

7. Send better proposals. Sending proposals via email is acceptable when your sales team is trying to push the idea of directory sponsorships to potential advertisers. Proposals should include as many details as possible, including weekly or monthly rates and mockups of how advertiser logos would appear to website visitors.

8. Dare to be different. Who says your directory sponsorship packages have to be the same as everyone else’s? The digital advertising world rewards innovators, so think outside the box when designing sponsorship packages and consider which benefits businesses would be most interested in receiving for their advertising dollars.

9. Check out the competition. Visit competing online directories to see which businesses are advertising on their websites. Make a list of which local businesses are purchasing the biggest advertising packages, since there is a good chance these businesses might be interested in advertising on your directory website, as well.

10. Promote sponsor success stories. Get on the phone and check in with businesses who have purchased directory sponsorships to find out what they thought of the experience. Did they get new customers as a direct result of their sponsorship? Improved name recognition around town? Gather up these positive anecdotes and feature them prominently in any marketing materials you use when selling directory sponsorships.

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.

directory landing pages

3 Steps to Increase the Value of Your Business Directory

Business directories can be lucrative for digital publishers. In addition to generating revenue, a business directory also increases website traffic and user engagement.

The majority of publishers are undervaluing their online business directories, failing to leverage what could be a key asset in their digital portfolios. The truth is, a robust business directory is likely worth more than most publishers realize. This is particularly the case when the directory is being properly monetized through a combination of advertising and sponsorship strategies.

Here are three steps to increase the value of your online business directory.

1. Assess what you’ve got.

Not all business directories are created equal. While most publishers can expect to generate revenue from their online directories, some will have to do more work than others before getting to the point of profitability.
We recommend starting this journey by assessing the value of your business directory in its current state. Quantify the size of your database, the number of free vs. paid listings, and the amount of excess display advertising inventory. How many of the businesses listed in your directory are paying for premium placements? How could the vendor pages and other related content be more efficiently monetized? With the answers to these questions in hand, you should be able to start identifying new areas for growth.

When you’re assessing your business directory, look at any existing limitations and brainstorm ways to surpass them. For example, a business directory may be limited in the amount of room available for display advertising. The best way to overcome this obstacle is to increase the advertising rates.

2. Fill any gaps in content.

Look at the results of that initial assessment to find places where your business directory could be improved. If the number of listings relative to the number of businesses in your community is low, then start by adding more listings to the directory. If you already have listings for nearly every business in town, but the information contained in those listings is thin or outdated, then get to work adding descriptions, phone numbers, addresses, and social links.

If manually updating your business directory is too burdensome or time consuming, consider a paid solution that automatically populates directories using publicly available business data. Another option is a self-serve interface where local business owners can submit information for their business listings. Revenue optimization should only be considered once there is strong, and accurate, content in the business directory.

A substantial business directory with updated information will encourage more visitor engagement and attract more advertising dollars. This is also the time to consider value add-ons for advertisers. Individual vendor pages, photo galleries, and click-to-call links all bring more value to an online directory, and more importantly, these are features that businesses will pay a premium to have attached to their profiles. Consider which of these add-on features makes sense given the specifics of your own publication’s business directory, then make sure to include information about them in any promotional material that are distributed to potential advertisers.

3. Sell, sell, sell.

Each step here builds on the last. The real value in an online business directory is in the listings that businesses pay to have included. Once you have assessed the current state of your directory and filled in any gaps in content, it’s time to start bringing in the revenue.

Reach out to local businesses that might be interested in having their listings featured in your business directory. Self-service marketing portals allow advertisers to submit content and pay for enhanced listings online. With the click of a button, an advertiser can decide how long the listing should run, and whether he or she would be willing to pay an additional $5 or $10 per month for extras, like logos, product images, or promotional videos.

Promotional materials published on your website should include information about the price of basic listings, as well as any add-on services. Many digital publishers are finding that they have an easier time selling to small and mid-size businesses when they provide potential advertisers with information about the number of visitors who click on individual listings each month. These same reporting tools can be useful as publishers evaluate their own pricing structures, since it might become apparent that specific add-on services—such as photo galleries or highlighted text—offer more value than others.

If you’d like to learn more about what it takes to build a successful online business directory, we’d love to set up a time to chat.