Masterclass in creating and promoting a web directory

This week a new web directory launched and made the Digg front page as well as gaining links from a host of other social bookmarking services. Since a lot people associate web directories with webspam they usually struggle to gain many links. In this post I will take a look at Open Source Living to see what we can learn from their marketing strategy.

First of all the site is a niche directory dedicated to a subject that social news junkies & bloggers love to link to. The target userbase is passionate and will happily promote good content when they see it.

The site itself has used a number of tactics to appear trustworthy:

  • It doesn’t look like a web directory
  • It has a nice logo/header
  • All the listings are trusted sites we know about
  • Each listing has a logo
  • Some listings have deep links to save people time

Take a look at the web browsers section and compare it to a standard directory.

OS Living

Despite launching in a quiet week the owner has gained over 1800 Diggs. Notice how the site didn’t quite make it the first time but with a subtle change of title and url it reached the homepage a few days later.

Initially I was surprised that the site had Adsense included from the outset but then I remembered that most Open Source fanatics probably use Ad Block plugins so they won’t ever see the Adsense.

A site like this can spend 6 months gaining viral links through social media and then start charging a review fee in the same way as Yahoo (ie within the Google guidelines) and it will suddenly be a hugely valuable place to get a link from.

Finally they also have a forum to allow anybody to suggest new ideas and discuss what sites should be included, how many web directories do that?

By Patrick Altoft. at 10:28AM on Thursday, 27 Dec 2007

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events. Follow Patrick Altoft on Twitter.

comments

7 Responses to “Masterclass in creating and promoting a web directory”

  1. Michele says:

    Interesting observations. I like the layout of that site. It reminds me of a particular series of techy books – can’t just remember the name, but they used to be quite pricey.

    Categorization within a category – that works really well; though I wonder if it will continue to do so as the site gets larger.

    A directory on the front page of Digg, who’da thunk it?

  2. Mike says:

    Do you think a new directory like this should not charge a review fee up front so it looks less spammy, or do you think that nobody would want to spend any money on a link until they are a bit more established?

  3. Sander says:

    This isn’t really the standard web directory but more a collection of open source resources. Everybody loves open source, take a look at http://www.webappers.com without any questions this place is great for open source resources, but not really categorized. With http://www.osliving.com/ everything is placed under categories and thats why you think its a directory. I don’t think this is a linkbuilding directory, if thats is what you mean.

  4. Vladimir says:

    That’s a really good analysis and observation. You could say that the amount of work they put into it is outstanding.

  5. chetan says:

    Great work done there..

    Unlike the normal script, addition of related images etc. did the work better.. And its index page is classic!

  6. Hello Patrick and thank you for writing about OSLiving.

    I’d just like to clear up a few discrepancies before they fester into facts.

    First of all, OSLiving was, is and will never be a link building directory. It is an archive of resources built by a group of people who are passionate about OSS. People who volunteer in their spare time. The site aims to raise awareness, to inform and to motivate others about OSS as a viable alternative to some of the mainstream closed source programs.

    The current html site has been running for less than two weeks. We are in the process of migrating it to WordPress, which means a new design and new features but also we are building it to adhere to OSS standards and guidelines laid out by the Open Source Initiative. But all aspects of the site’s development including the archive itself, the new weekly publication that we’ll soon be launching and the community forums, are built under the guidance and with the help of community members.

    You are of course free to believe that we employed ‘tactics to appear trustworthy’, that we are some sort of front for a money making business, or any other such offensive postulation, however, for the real version of what’s happening, I urge you to visit the following forum board and read the threads that chronicle the site’s short journey thus far:

    http://osliving.com/forums/index.php?board=8.0

    We will not be charging fees for anything. Access to the site is entirely free. Visitors are free to browse with adsense turned off and any revenue that is generated from google ads (which is currently negligible) goes towards covering the costs of running the site. The more it grows, the more resources it demands.

    @Patrick: Thank you for taking the time to write about OSLiving. If you’d like to find out more about the project, including detailed background and development information that would hopefully prompt you to reconsider your position on OSLiving, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Thanks very much indeed.

    Andrew.

  7. Some very good points, thanks for sharing

Leave a Reply