How to make money with a business directory website

When Blogs still didn’t existed, directories where already out there making money online.

Directory websites appeared online to try and organize the internet itself, before search engines came to be.

They evolved from collections of links like the DMOZ, to today’s business listings directories, with users reviews and specialized forums like Trip Advisor and Yelp, just to name the most popular two.

One of the biggest initial hurdle for Directory publishers, is finding a way to monetize their directory websites.

In this article we will try to explain how to :

1) Find the right niche.
2) Build the database.
3) Incentivize reviews.
4) Be visible.
5) Monetize your directory.
6) Improve your conversion rates.

7) We’ll also provide an Extra Tip on how to make money with a business directory website.

1 Find the right niche

As for any other internet business model, the best way to make money online with a directory website, is to find a profitable niche and exploit it.

The 3 fundamental qualities of a profitable niche are:

1) Good traffic.
2) Low or moderate competition.
3) High suggested bid for ads.

There is a tool to find possible keywords, their estimated monthly search numbers, the level of competition and the suggested bid for ads too. It is called “Google Adwords Keyword Planner“, it is free and you must learn how to use it, if you want to make money online.

2 Build the database

Should I build my own database or wait for users to do it? Is scraping an option? These are the most common questions asked by our customers.

Don’t wait for visitors to build your database with user generated content, your directory will never grow fast enough. Start by adding listings yourself and ask friends and colleagues to help you with this task.

Avoid scraping, the only data that can be scraped are detailed info such as business names, addresses, geo coordinates, telephone numbers, website addresses, email addresses and so on. Everything else is most likely used in other websites too, so it is useless.

You want Google to rank your listings? They must have better content compared to other pages that are currently ranking for the subject of your listings.

3 Incentivize User’s Reviews

Lot of reviews, means having a lot of original content that both your visitors and Google will love.

Getting the first user generated reviews is the hardest part. You should honestly review every listing that you know of, in your directory.

You should also get people in your network involved, to help you review as many listings as possible.

4 Be visible

This is probably the most important point. When it comes to making money on the web, for me the recipe is always the same.

You need good SEO and Social media marketing. If your directory website isn’t ranking high on Google for your niche or you don’t have enough followers to appear attractive to your potential customers, they won’t be willing to invest in your directory website.

If you can’t bring them traffic and possibly sales, you are worthless to them. It is as simple as that. You must become an SEO expert and dominate your niche.

5 Monetize your directory

There are three ways to monetize a directory website:

1) Sell listings.
2) Sell Ads space.
3) Sell extra services.

Listings can be anything: Business Listings, Events Listings, Jobs Listings, Classified Listings, Real Estate listings and anything else that comes to your mind. The only difference are few custom fields.

6 Improve your conversion rates

Learn how to convert free into paid listings. When you don’t have featured listings yet on your directory, the hardest part is selling the first few. Don’t be greedy at first and consider to set reasonable prices.

The technique with the highest conversion rate, according to our statistics, is still telemarketing.

Create a script of the telephone pitch, try to speak with the owner or the highest manager on duty only. Introduce the directory and inform him that his business has already been listed for free.

Extra Tip on how to make money with a business directory website

NAP citation for local SEO

If you don’t have a network that can help you influence business owners into buying your premium listings or you can’t think of any niche where you can offer value, consider selling NAP Citations submissions for local SEO.

NAP stands for Name Address and Phone and these citations are important for local SEO, like links are for Organic SEO.

NAP citations are exactly what business directory websites provide. A listing on Yelp, Trip Advisor or a Facebook page, count each as 1 NAP citation.