Are you thinking of starting an online directory website? Or have you recently launched a directory website and find yourself struggling to gain traction?
Let’s be honest here, purchasing hosting, setting up WordPress and Installing our Directory Theme is a relatively simple process. Sure, you could run into a few hiccups along the way, but we’ve got a support team and an extensive documentation that can resolve most questions or problems quickly.
Soon enough, you’ll be looking at a shiny new website that’s all ready for visitors. And this is where the real work begins because now it’s time to start creating content. That’s right, content — the stuff that will draw in visitors in and keep them coming back to your site again and again.
Last week, we talked about the importance of defining your market or niche for your directory website and then finding a way to serve their needs. Today, we’re going to discuss one way that you can approach that challenge, which is through the creation of interesting and helpful content.
The One Mistake that Most Directory Websites Make
In researching the last few posts, I’ve had to spend some time digging around the internet, looking for great directory websites. While I managed to find plenty of examples, I also noticed a tremendous number of directory websites that appeared stagnant. Their owners clearly got to the stage purchasing a domain, launching a site and adding a few listings. Many of them actually looked pretty good.
The problem is, there was clearly no plan in place to produce ongoing content. The blogs were stale with nothing more that a few dated posts — created during a fleeting moment of inspiration. Social media profiles? Same thing. A few status updates and then, silence.
It should go without saying that in today’s environment, high-quality content plays an important role in the success of most websites. You need to give some serious thought to a long-term content strategy. Without content, your directory website is almost guaranteed to die a slow death.
How to Create a Content Strategy to Support Your Directory Website
It’s important to keep your content strategy as simple as possible. Simple, consistent execution is the name of the game and the path to success. You need to avoid over complication at all costs.
You might be inclined to think that the directory forms the backbone of your website. But if you really think about it, your content is what matters. It’s responsible for attracting new visitors via organic search, paid search and social media. Your content can survive without a directory but the opposite does not hold true.
Let’s look at a simple 5-step framework you can follow:
Step 1: Determine Your Audience
You’re creating a directory website. Awesome. But who is it for? You have a well-defined niche and a clearly defined audience. Then, you’ll need to spend some more time thinking about who your typical visitor will be.
For example, if you’re creating an online directory of local tradespeople in your city, you might come up with the following description:
- Males and females between the ages of 34-65
- Annual household income of $75,000+
- Own a house, apartment or townhouse
- Live in a suburban environment
- Are currently renovating or planning a renovation
- May be performing some of the renovation on their own
- Need to hire a tradesperson for more complicated tasks like electrical and plumbing
The more clearly you define your audience, the easier the rest of this process becomes. You can answer the same questions no matter what kind of directory website you’re creating.
One thing you’ll notice here is the ease of identifying an audience when your niche is well-defined. If you don’t have a very specific niche your target audience becomes too broad to target effectively.
Step 2: Determine The Needs and Wants of Your Audience
Now that you know who your directory website is targeting, you need to figure out what kind of information they’re searching for. You can use some simple keyword research to do this but you should also talk to your target audience.
Using the example above, you might ask your audience some very specific questions:
- What’s frustrating them about the renovation process?
- Are they doing some of the work themselves?
- Are they hiring tradespeople for certain tasks?
- What frustrates them the most about hiring a tradesperson?
- Where did they find their list of potential tradespeople to hire?
- What could be improved in that process?
That’s 6 potential blog posts right there. Learn as much as you can about the needs and wants of your target market. Read through comments on other related websites, spend some time on Reddit or Facebook groups. The more you know about them, the more you can help them.
Here’s a great example that shows how your content can solve problems and answer questions. SauJuanDelSur.org put together guides designed specifically for their target markets.
Step 3: Decide What Kind of Content You’ll Produce
Once you understand your audience backwards and forwards, you’ll find it much easier to begin putting together a list of content that can help them.
Content ideas are important but so is the type of content or medium that you produce. Ask your audience what type they prefer — written, video, email newsletter, infographics, audio or a combination of a few,
If you’re sticking with the tradesperson directory example, there is a good chance that how-to videos will be near the top of your list. If you’re running a hostel directory, an example we’ve used in previous posts, there if a good chance that blog posts and photographs will be a popular medium.
Once you start to see a more consistent flow of traffic, make sure you ask your visitors what type of content they’d like to see. Produce more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.
Step 4: Create a Content Calendar
With some of the finer details sorted out, you’re getting close to being able to create content. But before you start typing, it’s a good idea to plan a content calendar. How often will you publish videos? What about blog posts? What day of the week will you publish and what time of day?
As soon as you’ve assembled the required details, it’s time to plug everything into a content calendar. You could use Google Sheets or an even better option would be a free WordPress plugin like Editorial Calendar.
It’s tough to overstate the importance of using a calendar. In my experience, unless you got a written content plan in place, it’s far too easy to get off track and before you know it, your blog resembles a ghost town.
Step 5: Start Producing Content!
This is the last piece of the puzzle and arguably the most difficult. It a common misconception that creating content is an easy process. But it actually takes work. And the more in-depth your content is, the more work it will take. It’s important to schedule a specific time when your priority is to create content. If you don’t set aside a specific time, it won’t get done.
One thing that will help in this regard is selecting a niche that you’re passionate about. Content is infinitely easier to create when the topic gets you excited. But even then, you might find yourself needing to hire outside help. Sometimes, hiring a writer or two to assist with creating content can free you up to do higher-level tasks such as networking or promotion.
Do the Hard Work First
Because creating content takes so much work, it can become easy to get discouraged. When you first decided to launch a directory site, you were probably excited by the possibilities. There was an endless stream of ideas flowing through your head, right?
But then reality set in.
After creating content for month or two and seeing little or no results, you’re probably ready to give up. Convinced that your niche directory site is doomed to failure. But if you stick with your consistent marketing and content creation, the results will start to pay off. Your traffic will begin to increase and before you know it, the listings in your directory will begin to see some referral traffic.
If you’re currently struggling to create content for your directory site or are looking for ways to increase your organic traffic, please share your thoughts in the comment below.