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How to build traffic and users.

This is tricky because I don't want to get spammy.

I need to figure out how to increase usership of the directory.  Search engine and social network traffic goes to the blog but only 1 - 3% click deeper. 

Re: How to build traffic and users.

Reply #1
I should expand on this:

Attracting listings - in the old days 1. first you seeded the directory with listings.  A starter set if you will, because you needed to look successful and you needed to have something there for users.  You couldn't just put up a blank directory.  2. then you listed you directory with several directories of directories, or directory lists.  This would help webmasters find you and add their sites.  This worked well for awhile until it became common for SEO's to blanket add sites for the purpose of search engine link popularity. Robots made it worse and soon spam submissions could come in the hundreds.

The above were okay back when directories were common and everybody used them (because search engines sucked), but few webmasters really know what a directory is today.  And while I have kept the option of allowing webmasters to submit sites to Indieseek I don't think it really works for tiny directories. 

However, the practice did help publicize the directory through webmaster groups via Word of Mouth.

Gaining users:  Old days - 1. Webmaster would submit site and get it accepted. Directory would send out email telling webmaster they had been accepted.  Email contained a link to a button saying "We're Listed in X Directory"  so it was like a badge of approval.  (Approval was very important back when sites were hand made HTML.)  This gained advertising for the directory across a lot of sites which was a good source of traffic especially within a niche.  2. Awards.  Back in hand made website days awards where A Big Thing.  Again, going back to some sense of approval.  If a webmaster won an award they got a honking big, gaudy award graphic which they usually linked back to the directory.  Again, it was advertising for the directory, like having a fixed banner ad on somebody elses website.  3. Voting.  Many directories gave out a voting code for their listing which webmasters could put on their site.  4. Webrings, top sites, newsletters.  5. Site promotion guides.  I had step by step, linked guides for webmasters on where to go to get their site listed within the genre or niche.  (I got fan mail for this.)  My niche was science fiction, so I was sure to list not only my own directory, but also all competing directories  within the niche.  It lent authority to my directory but also spread word through WOM.

So that is the background.  None of that works today.

1. ffor Indieseek, I can attract traffic to the blog so long as I post new blog posts and syndicate them to Twitter, and Mastodon.  The problem is that people helicopter in to the blog but rarely click on links taking them to the directory.  Or if they go to the directory, only 1 - 3% explore deeper.  Few click on links anymore.  Some do use the directory search feature.

2. The major search engines have spidered the entire directory, but there definitely is a filter because they don't list even the top categories.  They only list the blog.  So no search engine traffic.  (I suspected this would be the case but now after a year of testing I have proof.)

3.  Links.  I have links from my personal blog to the directory.  Visitors that click around the navigation of a blog are natural web surfers and they click deeper.  This is still a small percentage.

4. Subject Matter:  Heck building directories is a pretty tight, narrow subject at the best of times.  Even worse now that few younger folks know what a directory is.

So the point is, given the above, how do we lead people to a directory and get them to use it? 

It seems to me that a directory that is not used really serves no purpose.

Re: How to build traffic and users.

Reply #2
My directory is purely local, but the 2 parts of the Gloucester site that get the most hits are the directory and the events calendar

Re: How to build traffic and users.

Reply #3
I'm just putting out a "Links of the Decade" list here:

I think a great way to promote your directory is to spin off smaller versions. This list is just a smaller, flat directory of a part of It was a lot of work, because I wrote new descriptions and sublinks, to indicate what they meant in the context of 'the decade'.

I think doing one-off feature articles like this could be a way to spread word about your directory. People may not want to dig into an entire directory - so why not start them with a smaller directory?

Re: How to build traffic and users.

Reply #4
>smaller versions

Great idea.  People like sharing and linking to lists.  Yeah making it part of your directory was good thinking.

Re: How to build traffic and users.

Reply #5
I finally looked at the banner ad rotation feature on my directory script WSNLinks.  It's very basic, intended for placing Adsense Javascript code, maybe Amazon js code or HTML5 banners wherever I want them on the directory theme.   That isn't really what I need.  Also the banners won't appear on the blog.

My thought was to:

1. advertise other websites on the same domain (ie. advertise these forums.)
2. offer free advertising to certain groups to build goodwill.

All of which is a nice thought but I don't have enough traffic and the limitations of only using HTML5 banners.

Re: How to build traffic and users.

Reply #6
Did a little something to my sidebars with fingers crossed.  :))