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.

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