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Local Directory (again?)- same same but different

Discussion in 'Local SEO' started by Steatem, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. Steatem

    Steatem Junior Member

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    Hi,


    Would love some feedback from you all
    Yes local directory, has been done a million times, but... It IS still a sustainable business model for the city I live in. We have a population of 1.8 million in our major city. Within this major city is approx 25 local cities, with an average population of 73,000 people. The city I personally live in has over 100,000 people.

    Local directory competition in our area is almost non existent. Yes, the usual YP truelocal. But none with much marketing work done. We have 1, that does a booklet drop off every three months or so to our house. The book looks great, discounts, promotions etc, and I know some of these businesses are getting work from it. They have a website that is horrible and not user friendly. There website has only 11 backlinks with low level authority, and they are all linking backlinks from their customers.

    I have spent some time doing niche research for my local city, and have compiled a list of 11 niches that I think will perform.

    What we want to do, is initially make an online directory, with subdomains listing the local cities. eg;

    www,clifton,directoryname(brand),com/plumbers
    www,summit,directoryname(brand),com/plumbers
    and so on until we have all 25 subdomains created that covers the entirety of our major city.
    I've figured using subdomains is a safer bet incase anything goes wrong with our pagerank on them and we may have a bit of time to ensure the other subdomains are not affected. Plus its just easier to manage everything too.
    We have yet to decide how many adverts we will be listing per category. maybe 1, maybe 5, but it will be limited. Why? Because we will be aiming to achieve first page on serps.
    The obvious idea is, when somebody searches for plumbers in clifton, our website will be available.
    This alone, I think is a great selling point, we have a directory that is targeting only the people who want to see it. Not something that gets dropped in your mail and gets thrown in the bin. Plus we can provide stats that others cant of how many people have visited the ad/landing page and how many click throughs they have. Upselling at this point is easy, for on page management of their own website including, managing, seo, facebook, twitter and overall IM for there business. Increasing there sales and growing our business at the same time.

    Demographically, we are currently experiencing a bit of an economical downturn - Which I think is the best time to start ANY form of advertising business.

    Now, I know how to find customers, and sell them the product. That to me is the easy bit. The bit for me to get my head around is the steps in creation, management and seo of the directory itself. I'm experienced enough to create a simple wp site and sub directory for every niche and make that work.
    The rent-a-site idea that i've seen posted a few times is somewhat related to the point that we will have related content on the page, advert spaces that we sell and finally ensure that the page local businesses have their ad on will be on page 1 of the serps for their specific keywords. As I said, for the competition that is out at the moment, I don't think this will be difficult. IM in our area isn't big - it's almost unheard of.

    Is there anybody who has had experience of running a directory website similar to above. Remember this isn't a typical YP listing with 100's of entries. This is a powerful keyword specific top ranking landing page, that if done correctly should convert.

    I am wanting to make the website itself, with the help of Yoast SEO and some threads on this forum I think the onsite seo will be good.

    I will be sourcing backlinks for the pages from BST.
    Q.
    Would a site like this require citations to be done? or is backlinking to related niche's enough? Is there a service somebody here could recommend for this?

    We could use a physical business address if that would give us a better result.. but would it?

    The reason I have chosen to do subdomains instead of having everything on sub directories, is possible duplicate content and if for some reason the site gets sandboxed we don't lose the whole directory, only a local area that we can then work on to regain its position in the serps.
    Do you think this is wise? Would the big G know that its really the same site?

    I have thought of a few plugins we could use, including a map and a call to action button that stays on the bottom corner of the page on mobile view. What other plugins do you think would work with this?

    Is there somebody you could recommend for the creation of this wp site that has done something similar and would be user friendly for data input?

    Have you ever tried anything like this before? Is there anything we need to watch out for, any other questions I should be asking?

    Sorry for writing a novel, but maybe the info here could help somebody else too :)

    Am open to any thoughts you have on this, and any offers of services (as long as you have an approved BST thread).



    Thanks,

    Steatem.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2016
  2. davids355

    davids355 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Wow long post.
    I cant read all of it but I think its a good idea.

    Personally I would not use sub-directories - with a project this size i dont think its worth (Or required) to use any blackhat techniques so why worry about the site getting tanked? And I think perhaps you can automate things far more easily with a single domain rather than subdomains?

    Also how are you going to monetise? Are you doing the normal thing like where you offer everyone a free listing and then an option to upgrade to premium listing where you can be at the top of the lot?
     
  3. cyrusv

    cyrusv Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Sounds great if competition is almost none for local directories. I'd give it a go!
     
  4. Steatem

    Steatem Junior Member

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    Monetising will be a monthly fee, depending on how many listings we choose to put on the page. If we only had one ad, we could charge 400-1500us+ a month niche dependant. Or 2-3 with varying price amounts depending on placement. The biggest issue I can think of with say 3 ads, is on the computer it will show 3 side by side, but on mobile it will show it stacked. so the left or top position is worth more than the other two. The reason to charge this much? We would be promising first page on google. If its not within the top x amount of results there is no fee.
     
  5. davids355

    davids355 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    OK I see. So its a cross between a local directory and a rank and rent type site?
    So you really need to rank these sites to make your plan work right?
    In that case then I agree with you - either sub-domains OR even a separate domain for each area. That way you can use some more aggressive link building and not worry about tanking the entire thing.
     
  6. Steatem

    Steatem Junior Member

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    Correct.
    We get a client ad space (at this stage I am thinking of having only 1 per page. So it's basically a landing page for them) they have it for free until we rank the site. Once its in the top 10 we charge for a contracted term - say 12 months.
     
  7. Steatem

    Steatem Junior Member

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    Are there any pros or cons to going either way? Preferably I would use subdomains for every area. Then we can have a bit of brand recognition going. Would linking all the area subdomains to eachother pose any risk if one got tanked? Or would Googles not recognise the connection?
     
  8. wexzone

    wexzone Regular Member

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    I've had experience with this, thought in smaller cities. The most important thing is traffic. You need local customers to visit your page, and google can't be your only source of traffic with this model.

    One of the things I've discovered is that domains means a lot in this business, and if you have an exact match city name, it does make it a lot easier to get ranked. So, I think the subdomains are a good idea.

    You also need to budget for offline local marketing. You need local visitors, and in many areas, a lot of local people do not use google to find businesses, unless they have never shopped for that particular need. Getting business to put a sticker in their window to advertise their profile on your site is the ultimate goal, because you will become an established local resource.

    That is what you have to build, a local resource that customers use. Once you get that, the SEO can come to grow and branch out, and you'll naturally start ranking if people use your site.

    One way to get backlinks and traffic is to get local businesses to link to your site (their profile or list or whatever). This won't happen if you are a typical directory site, you need to offer real value. If customers see your site as a sign of trust or credibility, businesses will flock to you to be listed. If you offer them value, they will link, and your rankings will get stronger.

    Authentic local links from local business sites will cement you in the search rankings. I've beat out chamber of commerces and big listing sites with a handful of local links from areas businesses. Offer your clients a discount if they link to you.

    There are some wordpress themes that handle the profiles, maps, reviews, and stuff like that will automate a lot of the front end for you. Here's one: http://themeforest.net/item/listify-wordpress-directory-theme/9602611 (I am not affiliated with them)
     
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  9. AckAck

    AckAck Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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  10. Steatem

    Steatem Junior Member

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    Just had a look. Thanks. I am still in the process of building the site when I get around to it. Rank and Rent sites are old but they still work.. so I guess they would work in a directory style. Just not sure how ranking a single page will go. Will need quality content which a normal directory would not have.
     
  11. AckAck

    AckAck Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I used to do that for attorneys until i get hit by the state bar. I would rank sites (city) (divorce-attorney) for wp sites and created niche directories and offered any client top placement in their city and niche. I would focus on low volume keywords phrases and cities, but pointed out the guys on page 3 and 4 who were trying to rank for the keyword that i was on first page for. I had around 10 directories that i scrapped from other sites and 40 geobased attorney sites for different practice areas, i just left out the company phone, email and website link and obviously any duplicate content (bio)...and when attorney was so excited he purchased a directory off of me and it's doing pretty well. Legally he was able to get it done, not me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
  12. Steatem

    Steatem Junior Member

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    Great work! Did you look into doing it for other niches? our setup will be www . brandname . com/nichecity with almost unlimited nichecity variations. from hairdressers, vets to gardeners. infinite opportunities if targeting the right kw's.
     
  13. godang

    godang Regular Member

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    great info... subscribed.
     
  14. AckAck

    AckAck Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    yes do one for handymen (plumbers, carpet cleaners, ac, pool cleaners, etc..) and then TRY some for the big boys (doctors, dentist, CPA's)...but that's a directory and takes a lot of work and content but you can just buy all the plugins and theme you will need from codecanyon and themeforest. I would scrape directories and like i said before leave out phone, website link, bio, photo and then at top of page I would do 100-200 word content on that city while the free listings where sitting below my clients top spot banner. obviously a pool cleaner is a lot easier to contact and convince than a doctor or lawyer, trust me.

    but what i do now for my clients, i basically just create them a directory in their county, so they rank for every city in that county. that's an old school tactic, then i create a regular site with (city) (service)........ (obviously no scrapping or showing other listings) but need to spend a lot on good content, around 600-800 words.

    elocal uses subdomains pretty effectively. Back like 5 years ago, there was a garage company who had over 30 directory sites, like churn and burn and they ranked for every city in america when it came for garage doors. then they were slapped by google. but look into Precision Garage Doors and you might be able to see what they were doing. they just overdid and over optimized and they still ranked with rarely any backlnks.

    so each of my client has a mini directory and a site that is optmized with over 50+ pages focusing on each city. Old skool but still works like a charm. If you do that, make sure you domain is brandable, so you can get away with brandabledomain.com/city, versus dealing with a low CTR losangeelsdentist.com/(city 60 miles away)...that will lead to poor CTR.
     
  15. Steatem

    Steatem Junior Member

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    I agree the big boys would be hard.. but I doubt we will ever need to go for them. Our main city has 25 local cities. If we target only 3 niches that's 75 ad placements with one ad on the page @ say ~450 p/month. That's over $33k... A month.


    We would only be focusing on local businesses with 1 location. So lets say if we found a mechanic in Toronto who has 15 other mechanics in Toronto as competition. we would use our brand eg; blackpages.com/mechanictoronto this page will only have that one mechanic on it.. no other mentions of anybody else. Basically a page built specifically for him. With good content and all his info.
    Then we go and find a plumber. his site would be blackpages.com/plumbertoronto again built only for him no other mentions of other plumbers. So technically its not a directory..but it is...

    I guess doing it this way it makes it alot easier to build compared to a traditional directory. I've never seen something quite like this before.. so its a learning curve.

    When you say you create a directory for your clients. You must be dealing with huge companies? like franchises?

    Thank you for the example websites. Very helpful. I like the Precision layout with content and the video. bookmarked!
     
  16. AckAck

    AckAck Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    you're good. i had a friend that thought like you too, "if we build this and we get X amount of clients, that's 150k!" so I built him a directory and he never pulled the trigger and I ended up selling it on flippa. He also bought over 100 domains for plumbers (city)plumber411.com in hopes of ranking each site in google on first page and renting the sites but he finally figured out he was stretching himself too thin and didnt have the money for backlinks. So while some sites ranked just based off content because city and service was low volume, the others were just sitting on page 4 and 5. He would have to spend X amount every month on backlinks.

    So yea do your thing man and keep us updated. With the directory on themeforest, you could look like a fortune 500 company in just a week or so.
     
  17. Steatem

    Steatem Junior Member

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    Thanks. I appreciate your input. Honestly if I get 1 ad up by the end of the year I would be happy.

    Your friend sounds like somebody I know. Prep and Execution can be the hardest thing for some people.