The Best Online Directory Software for Publishers

What to look for in online directory software, from Haven, to WordPress, Joomla, and third-party products

The directory website business model still has a lot of upside for multiplatform publishers. When executed correctly, directories can be a win-win for any ambitious publisher. The publisher produces a framework and reference content, and the advertiser pays to post content, usually in the form of a listing. Think of something like a job listing on MediaBistro.

As you might expect, a directory can be an excellent revenue stream for publishers. Before the days of online publishing, publishers compiled and printed directories for their niche markets. Many publishers gave up on this type of publishing with the advent of search engines, but too many underestimated what made these specialty directories valuable.

Many niche audiences are still looking for that trusted source of product and service providers. At the same time, product and service providers are still looking to connect with their core audience online. A publisher who can build an audience in a specific niche has the right environment to bring those groups together, and sponsors will pay annually to be listed in that environment.

There is a secondary benefit of directory publishing – as an audience engagement device on your website. Driving traffic to your website is always an important factor in online publishing and a robust, regularly maintained directory can bring your audience back to your site again and again. Your targeted directory can provide critical, trusted information faster than Google can.

That’s not to say Google doesn’t like directories, they love them! When it is properly tagged and optimized, an online directory will always appear near the top in Google search rankings. Google highly values content that is more valuable to the search universe and a good online directory delivers that by the boatload.


Mequoda’s online directory software: Haven Directory

We consider directories to be multiplatform-friendly because publishers who have a directory as part of their business model and have digital and print counterparts also can include the listings as ads in their digital magazines and part of special sections. More importantly, digital publishers can link their content with the directory listings, adding a specificity and content alignment that is more valuable to sponsors.

The Haven Directory Module, offered only by Mequoda as part of a Haven CXMS System, is a piece of online directory software that integrates your directory with both your audience development portal and your digital magazines to help provide a more complete offering.

At its most basic, Haven Directory provides integrated directory listings management by category, including individual directory pages for each person, product, or company listing. It also allows for filtering on up to 5 attributes (e.g., state, product type).

But what makes Haven Directory special is its integration with your other online publication resources. Haven’s Recommended Resources Manager allows the publisher to successfully drive traffic from the audience development portal posts to directory listings.

So, your affinity site that drives search traffic has an added dimension extremely valuable to sponsors and users. Any portal post about product reviews or solution providers can be followed immediately by provider listings from your directory.

This Recommended Resources Manager is similar to a related resource widget, which can be found on many sites to refer to other stories on the same subject, but it provides the ability to display “related resources” for each post you publish. The publisher can set the widget to pull the top 3-5 premium directory listings (controlled via a setting) from the category in which the post is published. The displayed links go directly to the sponsor’s page on your site.

This functionality also is displayed when users view a category page (i.e., all the stories for a particular vertical topic on your web site). At the bottom of this page is a related resources section, and a “see more/see all” link can be displayed that takes the user straight to the resource directory category page.

The use of “enhanced listings” also provides an extra revenue opportunity. For product and service providers who pay a premium price, the listing can include a more complete product/service description, and even video!

When used to full capacity, these enhanced listings are really microsites for the customer. And sometimes the top listings in Google can be to the publisher’s directory!

Other à la carte online directory software options

There are many online directory software options for publishers interested in directories. Associations, newspapers, cities and other community organizations have started to use directories to make money and drive traffic, so there are a lot of plug-ins and software options available. Not all these options are right for publishers, and the integrated experience that makes the functionality especially helpful for users.

eDirectory and Brilliant Directories are two leading software options.

Both are ready-made directory solutions that are easy to use and have some advanced billing options. As with any single solution, the trick will be getting these to communicate to the other parts of your web portal, or content management system so you can offer the functionality Haven provides.

If you are on WordPress or Joomla, there are several plug-in solutions. The WordPress Link Directory solution is relatively uncomplicated and does offer search functionality.

Joomla SobiPro offers a lot of flexibility to include specialized fields in your directory, and has some presentation options as well.

You’ll need to consider the particulars of your market before you start. What’s a good price for a listing? Can you offer something special to sponsors who pay more? It’s important to understand the installation and maintenance needs of these single solutions before you start, as this will affect pricing and the manpower needed to build and maintain your directory.

Haven CXMS is built with efficiency in mind

Haven CXMS is a state-of-the-art SaaS tool built, owned and maintained by Mequoda to enable all the functionality that multiplatform publishing businesses need to be successful and profitable.

Unlike retrofitted websites with disparate systems that make customer service and reporting more difficult, Haven gives you a complete, central database that informs your marketing decisions and helps you maximize the lifetime value of each subscriber. We manage all the infrastructure, so you never have to look under the hood.

We’ve even identified the best partners so you don’t have to research software, email, hosting, and other functions on your own, or take stabs in the dark. When you put your system management into the hands of the industry’s only strategy-centric provider, your organization reaps the benefits of stress-free technology, content-focused implementation and ongoing profitability.

Schedule a 30-minute complimentary consult with Mequoda’s founder Don Nicholas to learn more about Haven.

This article was originally published in 2016 and has been updated.


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