Running a Niche Directory

Targetwoman women directory was conceived to complement our main vertical information portal. To summarize our blurb on the home page of the directory – targetwoman directory “lists thousands of high quality websites – carefully chosen by human editors exclusively for women. Combined with the painstakingly written articles from the Women Portal section, we strive hard to offer one of the most rewarding experiences on the Net.”

Initially the idea was to include websites, which will add/throw more light on the information provided in the main body of the article. Alternatively, if we are talking about digital photography, a listing of hand selected sites detailing software, techniques or processes would add to the “rich user” experience we so strive hard to create.

In another instance we have added a site where the owner of the site is selling hand crafted metallic jewelry – tailor made and customized for individual preference in the appropriate section of the directory.

Running a niche – in our case – women directory calls for hard work and tons of patience. These days most stand-alone directories have become staid collection of links. There are literally thousands of such directories dotting the landscape of the Net.

There is profound wisdom in these words – “Creating additional services around your directories sends a very clear message to your site visitors and potential advertisers. It is telling them that you mean business, you understand what they want and you want to provide the most value to your visitors and advertisers.” – http://www.youshouldknow.com/directories/directory-owners-%E2%80%A6-incredible-bright-people-doing-incredible-stupid-things-25.html

There are many kinds of directories now – free directories, paid directories and the new avatar of paid listings in the form of bid-for-position directories. If you look closer, the number of free to list directories has started dwindling down for a reason. The cost of running a high traffic directory is not exactly cheap. Marketing a plain Jane directory and the cost to make them appear in the primary SERP space is very high.

You must carve a niche in your area in order to succeed in the web as in all things in life. So when it came to take stock of the situation, it was decided that we must add more value to the visitors – enrich the user experience and provide value for their time. The first step was to make the directory internals more accessible to the search engines and users alike. No matter how hard you try, URLs like “targetwoman.com/links.php?cat25& …” is not going to make search engines robots and humans alike to sit up and take notice.

So the internal linking structure was modified to look more meaningful – http://dir.targetwoman.com/Aerobics

It was decided to shift the contents to a subdomain for more effective management. In addition, to emphasize the correlation between the information section and the directory section, a corresponding navigational aid had to be stitched together. Hence, the left pane was introduced where articles appropriate to the category appear now.

To alleviate the monotony of the text, we added suitable images on the right, keeping in tune with the regular portal section. The individual page displaying the site in more detail now has more space to show additional information. We are not using the space as of now.

After all the cosmetic makeover of the section and the changes to the internal linking structure was effected we checked out the server stats. We were rewarded with better in-depth crawling of the entire directory section by most of the leading search engines.

Now on to more ambitious changes (to –do list ):

1. Add more detailed information about the site – Contact number and contact details if you are selling a service. We plan to display (edited for clarity and objectivity) information about any product, services you may have. This adds value to the eventual visitor.
2. Use our internal crawler to make the directory more responsive to real time changes. This would eliminate the manual task of weeding out defunct websites.
3. Use some element of popularity to rank the sites when listing them.

1000 Articles and still growing

Targetwoman – the major genuine information portal for women  has  notched up its 1000 articles  this week. In fact, we have crossed over to about 1005 articles with today’s publication of Antique Furniture article.

We have covered almost all the topics – a woman would be interested in – women health, beauty, apparel, shopping and managing money to name a few. We have spent a fortune  in researching, collating and writing out the articles. All our team members have slogged for day and night to achieve this land mark. I must specifically thank my able colleague – the Webmaster and the Chief Editor without whose complete dedication and sacrifice, this would not have been possible in such a short time.

Many sites, literally thousands of sites have linked to our articles which shows our popularity.

Thank you – our Readers and our loyal visitors. We will toil hard to make your visit genuinely worth your while !

Adding Links in Directories

After the holiday season, it is back to the nose at the grinding wheel again…

One look at the number of submissions waiting at the Targetwoman women directory made me cringe at the prospect of wading through literally thousands of them. We have a few volunteer editors who patiently look up the sites in the submitted list and check out whether they are appropriate for inclusion.

Now a bit of statistics is in tune with the subject we are discussing. We have over the past couple of years built up around 6000 links under 10 broad categories and 46 sub categories. This – you would say is paltry addition compared to some of the other directories which add just about the same in about a month.

We have always maintained that we are not looking at the numbers here in our directory. Our ratio of acceptance to submission is about 1:75

Many send us some very complimentary messages ( and not so complimentary messages as well) through the submission form.  I reproduce below some of the subject lines here:

“Very informative and well designed website.”

“Your site was very helpful to me. Thank you. ”

“May God Bless you for the excellent information you offer in your pages ! ”

“Really enjoyed your site. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference. ”

“Your site is very convenient in navigation and has good design ”

Thank you all for the bouquets ( and also for the well intentioned bricks).

I spent almost about 3 hours just to filter out the spam from the list and mark the categories to forward them to appropriate editors. It is not such a pleasant experience for the Volunteer editors to go through grotesquely mangled submissions and as a result, the onus falls on me to sort the list.

Until we come up with a better technological solution to this, the editors or someone has to manually sort the large  volume of submissions.

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