Why I’m Starting My Own Article Directory on My Own Site

The old blog was formatted with posts by date, that was when the freshness of the post mattered. The most recent data was most important. It still works for some sites, like a news feed.

Now, more sites are about content, content curation specifically. The date is still part of that, but not the focus. (Note: I’m not for removing dates from posts because I want to know the post I’m reading isn’t years old or no longer relevant).

It’s time sites were content focused, not date focused.

Put your content first and show your posts in the format of an article directory. Sort them by topic and subtopic. Show them that way on your main site. Save people from searching your site for relevant content, bring it to the top for them instead.

Not every site still adds search and this is a mistake if your posts are organized by date first and category in the sidebar, maybe. You are leaving people to find information from your site in a hit and miss way. Why? Isn’t the point of your site to provide information and resources? Every site should have a claim to fame, tell people who you are and why you are a resource in your niche or topic. Then comes the actual information, or the product you are selling. Make it easy for people to get there. Article directories were on the right track but it’s not about syndicating your content to other sites or bringing in other people to speak for you. Speak up for yourself.

Source: Article Marketing: Why I’m Starting My Own Article Directory . . . and You Should Too | Inkwell Editorial : Inkwell Editorial

There are good points in here, things I have been thinking myself. But, not for an article directory of content from other people but my own.

The best two points from this post (link above) are controlling your own content and how it is shown (if it is shown at all) and showcasing your content to build your own authority in the topic.

Of the two I think building your own authority in your niche is the most important. Share links but stop giving your content away for free.

Make your site content focused by curating your own content.

Content Curation Makes a Better Web Directory

The first two points are the best, I think.

A niche has a better chance these days. Think content curation. Actually, think content curation for the second point too. You should build more than a bundle of links. Content curation is about showcasing great links and adding more to them. Create a whole package presentation around the niche. Don’t stop at listing sites.

Write about the niche. This could be interviews with the very people who run the sites you want to list in the directory. How smart is that? Not only are you building your authority, learning more about the niche but you are far more likely to sell links (or make money from ads) if you have something people actually want and can’t find elsewhere.

  1. Start with a Niche – Find a topic you’re seriously passionate about, from birds to routers to online clothing merchants.
  2. Don’t Just Make a Directory – Put great content about your subject on the site: blog posts, articles, tools, resource lists, charts, diagrams, investigative journalism, etc.
  3. Offer to Review Sites in Your Niche – But, for goodness sake, only include them if you’d really, honestly endorse them.
  4. Provide a Reason Why They’re Listed – Imagine a fellow hobbyist or researcher in your topic of interest in real life – if you couldn’t sit down with that person at a table and show them on your laptop why you included a particular site, DON’T include it.
  5. Don’t Offer Gimmicks or Link Juice – Offer listings on a site that real people who are really interested in your topic read and use and enjoy. If you start down the path of selling links for search engine value, you’ve lost your way. It can always be a secret side benefit, and plenty of folks who’ll come to you for links will be thinking about it, but if you want to be truly immune to any future penalties or devaluations, you can’t make it a focus.

Source: What Makes a Good Web Directory, and Why Google Penalized Dozens of Bad Ones – Moz

Building a Web Directory with WordPress

You can use WordPress plugins to create your own web directory. There are premium plugins and themes, or you can try the free plugins. Expect to do some work, making some changes to HTML and CSS code and work with an FTP program. If you can’t (or won’t) do the extra work then look at the premium options instead. However, if your plan is to make money with a web directory aren’t you smarter to use free options and do some of the work yourself?  Note: I do pay for software and themes and even the odd plugin, but I prefer to give business to the open source and free software as often as I can.

Link Library is the plugin I have been using longest. You can work with the links you already have in your WordPress blogroll. Take a look at the information given for setting it up. It is fairly simple and most of the work is just done inside WordPress itself. Pretty simple.

Open Links Directory is the one I’m looking at and thinking I will start with for a new directory I’ve been wanting to sort out and get active. See the demo. I’ve done the install but I’ve got a bug to work out with FTP. Your own install may be bug-free. Other than a small bug, it looks great and I’m impressed.

WP Link Dir looks interesting and they say it works with pages on WordPress instead of posts. So that could leave you with the ability to run posts as a regular blog with the directory in the background, or as a feature. I’m only hesitant to download this one because they want to gather your email address first. (I don’t like having my email address harvested for spammers).

Outdated, possibly forgotten plugins which you can still find to give a try:

Article Directory is an interesting plugin to try. You can read the FAQ and find the plugin (and a theme) on the site which also acts as a demo for the plugin.

Web Directory WordPress plugin has not been updated for years so it is use at your own risk. But, you can find more information for using and installing it on the site (the download link there is broken).

WordPress Link Directory is outdated but available. The link to the site from WordPress is broken but I found it myself.

Sneeze Pages Create an Index of your Greatest Content

I’m working on creating a Sneeze Page as part of SITS Girls 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge.

With as many posts as this blog has it will be a pretty massive job to put them into topical index/ subpages. It’s something I could easily let myself put off indefinitely. But, I’m going to give it a try. First, some research.

ProBlogger: Create a Sneeze Page for your Blog [Day 18 – 31DBBB]

Benefits of Sneeze Pages:
3. It can help create a ‘Sticky’ Blog – I’ve not seen stats on this but it is my suspicion that a person arriving on your blog for the first time increases the chances of coming back to it the more great posts that they view on it. Get someone to read 10 great posts that you’ve written previously instead of 1 and you’ll exponentially increase the likelihood that they’ll subscribe and become a regular reader.

Types of Sneeze Pages

  • Themed Sneeze Pages – these are posts or pages on your blog or site that revolve around a single theme.
  • Time Related Sneeze Pages – these pages are based around a defined period of time. They are usually a ‘best of’ post that highlight your key posts from that period.
  • Retro Sneeze Pages –  shows off a number of posts from your blog from a particular point in its history. The most common way to do this is to do a post highlighting posts from the blog from a year ago.
  • Series Sneeze Pages – many bloggers use the technique of writing a series of blog posts that allow them to explore a topic over a period of time with lots of interlinked posts.

Small Business Trends: Convert New Readers with a Sneeze Page

As you put the page together, don’t just make it a series of links. Instead, you’ll want to create some new content to describe what each link is about and the benefit for the reader should they click through. Writing a few lines of content for each link will increase the page’s usefulness because you’re giving people a sneak peak at what they can find. Once you combine your links with your descriptions, that’s your Sneeze Page.

Steven Sanders: Create Blog Stickiness with Sneeze Pages

Using Sneeze Pages Creatively

Sneeze pages don’t have to be pages. A landing page may be a better method. These are called Social Media Landing Pages.

Don’t re-link old posts one right after the other though. This could cause others to get suspicious or even stop clicking the links, which is utterly ineffective. Take your time. Span a couple of old posts over a 2-3 day time period. I like to call this “sporadic sneezing“.

Next, my own conclusions and plans:

Interlink the posts you use on your Sneeze page, make sure readers can easily travel from one post in the series to the next and then the next. It will be extra work, but they should not have to return to your index page to find the next post in the series (unless that’s how they want to read them).

The most popular Sneeze page I have noticed are the week end round up posts. The blogger looks at other blogs and sites and links back to the posts they most enjoyed, noticed, or found useful. Doing this type of Sneeze post gives your readers an idea of what you read, who you are and the type and quality of resources you can find. It also gives some link love to other bloggers. So pick the blogs you link to with care.

You can have a month end or year end round up of your own posts but this seems a bit time absorbing when we already use tags and categories. Readers should be able to find your topical posts through tags and categories or by using the search feature on your site.

From what I have read and my own discoveries and explorations online I think the best use of a Sneeze page is to promote your niche itself. Think of a question readers are most likely to need answered. You can research how people come to your blog, what were they looking for when they arrived? You can post a reader survey, ask them directly. What were they looking for? What would they like to see more of? Use this information to write new content geared to your readers and set up the information/ posts with their own index page which will become your Sneeze page.

Give it an eye catching graphic with a text description and place it in your blog sidebar. Don’t stop there, spread the link around, as well as the graphic. Grow your own link love using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, other bloggers, ad networks, link exchanges and web forums. How about adding the link to your business card, make sure it’s a short link (easy to type without mistakes).

A Sneeze page can be a useful index of specific content on your blog, it’s also a way to direct readers to content they might not think to look for as they read your current selection of posts. So give them more to read, show off your best stuff and create yourself as a resource worth coming back for.

See also:

Fix Your Site’s Image for Social Network Sharing

Why are you pushing people to share your link on social networks if your link looks like garbage when it gets shared?

Try a little test of your site. Go to your front page and add your site to StumbleUpon, or some other social network – or just bookmark your own site. Now go look at the listing in your bookmarks or on StumbleUpon. How does it look?

What does the title say? Is it your site name or some promotional blurb? Does your site name show up at all? If not, read about meta tags and start using them!

Does an image show up with your site listing? Not everything will use an image, StumbleUpon does. Do you like the image that shows up for your site? Does it represent your site well? Will people want to read more? Does it give the impression of a good, well run site or does it look like splog?

Now, does a description show up with the site title? In bookmarks you aren’t going to have a description but the odd place will take the description from your meta tags and add it to your site listing. When I was an editor at the Dmoz web directory I did see site descriptions come up with any site I reviewed to list.

If your site title, image and description come up with just a sales pitch do you think you are going to get new readers?

When someone (like myself) clicks your site to list it with their bookmarks, to share it on a social network, favourites or sites they found interesting what does that listing look like?

Are you giving yourself a spammy impression without meaning to? You can’t change how your site appears when someone lists you on their own StumbleUpon account. But, you can be proactive and make sure your meta tags are not spammy.

I recently found a site I liked. I added it to my sites on StumbleUpon, thinking I was doing a good thing to share a good site with others and give the site itself some extra promotion. How do you think I felt when I looked at my StumbleUpon account and saw the site listed as “FREE ebook… blah blah blah…” Even the site image was an amateurish text ad for this FREE ebook. It looked like garbage. No one is likely to click on that link. I wouldn’t. So now I have this garbage looking thing in my list of sites on StumbleUpon. Possibly I will just delete it. I don’t want trash in my Stumbled sites. How would you feel if this were your site I am now deleting? Wouldn’t you rather go in and fix your meta tags?

Why are you pushing people to share your link on social networks if your link looks like garbage when it gets shared? Why waste my time and your own?

For Web Directory Builders

Have you ever thought about building your own web directory? Maybe you just want to sort out all the links you’ve had stuck in bookmarks forever or maybe you want to share the great links you have found about a  personal hobby/ interest with the world.

Creating a directory is easier with software to help you build and maintain it. You can just keep a live bookmark list online, like a portal. But, it is fun to put your links out there and see what comes back when people have the option to add their own links. Of course, you will need to moderate any incoming links. (We all know about spam and spammers).

I want to start with a web directory for Canadian rural and urban exploration sites. I know it will grow from there, I already have the stash of links to do it. But, I am keeping it simple while I work with the software and get the hang of things. Luckily, I am already experienced at editing a web directory. I was an editor at the Open Directory Project for about ten years and I am currently editing the Best of the Web directory (though not getting nearly enough time in there to earn anything from my work yet).

Anyway, a directory is a fun project. Some people will add in the feature to charge anyone a fee for being listed in the directory. To me, that messes with the integrity of the directory. If you only list paying links you will be missing a lot of good sites. Also, the sites who pay to be listed are not likely the very best sources for information on the topic. Often it is still the sites which are a labour of love which have the most information, the best resources and the real time put into maintaining them. I never fully trust any site that looks like an ad farm. I think they are more interested in marketing, money making and SEO than building a great resource.

Some links of interest to anyone building their own directory:

Directory Blogger

Talk Directories

Web Directory List

Directories Blog

triPHP Directory Discussion

How To Build Your Own Web Directory

Once upon a time I was an editor in the great Dmoz (Open Directory Project) web directory. I stayed there about ten years as an active editor. Now I am editing in the BOTW directory. I still like adding sites, caring for and maintaining a list for a topic I am passionate about. However, it is nice to do so without anyone else making up the rules. So, I guess that is how I started the idea of beginning my own web directory. Not a huge project like Dmoz or BOTW. I am just going to pick topics I like: rural exploration, urban exploration, historical places, maybe other things like arts and crafts too. Time will tell. The plan is to begin with rural exploration in Ontario, then rural exploration in Canada. I plan to start each smaller section one at a time, until it builds up.

I started making a list of sites using a Blogspot blog. Then I moved it to Movable Type on a domain I picked out. But neither of these options was working well as a software for building and keeping a list. Both were cumbersome and messy to work with in this way. I looked at other ideas for link management but didn’t find anything except bookmark lists. Then I found two plugins that would work with WordPress for building a web directory (Directory Press and Web Directory WordPress Plugin) versus a directory of links. There is a difference!

I ended up loading the plugins to have a look at them but the software I am actually going to try using for the web directory are IndexScript and SKALINKS, both are freeware. Two different web directory software packages. I will let you know how it goes as I get it figured out on my web host and domain. They both look fine in the demos available on their sites.

As I was looking for software I found a few links about building a web directory. They are all geared to people setting it up for getting paid submissions. That isn’t my plan. I will allow submissions but I’m not asking for money. If submissions are free then I don’t have to feel I owe anyone a link. I can choose to list them or not based on the content of the site rather than the content they add to my bank account. I think it works better that way.

Associated Content: Monetize Your Website by Creating a Paid Web Directory

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Blog: Some Advice Before Creating a Web Directory

SEO Blog: Web Directories – Worth Doing Well

Intelliants: How to Make Your Directory Popular

Intelliants: How to Monetize your Directory

Intelliants: Niche or General Directory? Which to Choose?