Building up a directory site or a directory as part of a site powered by WordPress is a powerful way to build up a site profile. At a fundamental level, the more directory listings you add to your site, the larger your site’s footprint becomes. The larger the footprint the higher the chances are that people will visit either from word of mouth or from findings in search.
Too many companies or entrepreneurs will come across a database of listings and just dump (publish) the entire thing all at once. They want to look big and impressive right from jump, even though most visitors will never visit their entire database all at once. It is true that if you have very little published your site might look a little wimpy, however there is something to be said for a balanced approach in what you start with and how much you sand bag for the days and weeks to come.
When you publish a directory whether you are starting out with a large database or not, you should plan to add and publish at least one new listing a day, preferably until the end of time if possible! If your database list is published all at once, you will have little more to do to get some serious attention from people, social media and search engines. So trickle it out when you launch.
As you publish each new page, you should also make sure that you are tweeting each new listing on Twitter, and pushing out similar information to other areas of social media wherever you get the chance. These messages should include a link back to the listing that you just added. There will rarely be any link juice (Pagerank) from this, however, it will help your site get indexed more thoroughly and if you write your social media messages well, those links will have a contextual value to them that will help set up your directory pages even better.
Plus, its just good PR to help people see what your site is about, help them see you are growing, and help them to possibly add their own listing to your directory if applicable, which further fuels the fire.
Tweeting directory listings is even more important now that Google is starting to collect (scrape) directory like content to provide ready answers directly in a google search. This makes that social capital even more important.
It also makes it imperative that your directory should have a stellar User Interface, layout, design and some type of unique aspect to it that not even Google can top. You may not be able to fire on all those cylinders at once, but if you try to get there your efforts can pay off.
Last week I was working to scope a new directory project with Queen City Forward (adding a directory to an existing site that has several other focal points). The site wanted a directory to augment other services they provide to social entrepreneurs in the Charlotte, NC area. In this case, we will not have a database to start with, we’ll use existing members, and trusted service providers in the community and possibly some paid listings as well.
As I was mulling over a couple aspects of the project, I noticed a new follower on Twitter @WTESavannah from Where to Eat Savannah. When I was in the Army, I lived in Savannah for a few years and met my wife there when she was attending art school. I try to make it back every couple years and finding great food is top of the list when we hit the cobble stone streets. So when I saw this follower, I clicked on them to check them out and saw that their last few tweets were about (yep you guessed it) recent additions of places to eat in Savannah.
What’s more, they even showcase my wife’s old employer (and mine for a part time job as well) River Street Sweets(damn now I’m thinking about bear claws…). Regardless, they are doing a good job of communicating their growing directory, showing people what they do on a regular basis, growing business by showing their own success and promoting their own clients. It’s a win win for everyone.