What is a business directory? Simply put- a list of businesses used by people who are interested in finding potential businesses that meet their needs. There are a lot of directories out there but how many of them can boast that they are awesome? To be that, you need to get your directory going in the right direction right from the start.

First of all, ask yourself why you want to create one—There are many reasons why you’d want to build a business directory—maybe you want users to have a reference source, maybe you want to feature other businesses on your site or maybe you want people to get to know your business,–in short—you need to establish purpose, for this is what is going to ultimately influence the process and also the end result.

Having decided why you want to build a directory is a big first step as it tells you how it’s going to evolve and what shape it’s going to take. This is in turn will tell you who your target audience is going to be. For instance, if it’s a local business directory, then it should cater to not only the local audience but also to visitors from different countries that visit that place. This means it should be available in more languages than one.

Today everything is content driven—so a business directory is useful only if it has meaningful and relevant content—the more the better. Start off by typing in your own data and this will trigger other people to volunteer information. Content starts building up and it will soon start to gain volume making it inviting for more people to read.

Remember however that everyone is doing the same thing—adding content and more content, so you need to differentiate in order to set yourself apart from competition. Make content interesting by adding pictures. All of us know that a picture is worth a million words and they have a way of attracting people- so add relevant pictures (of the same size) and sustain the user’s interest.

Even if other businesses are offering content and information in the way of pictures, do ensure that you don’t lose visual appeal by maintaining a consistent look throughout the pages.

Although users are primarily going to determine how popular your directory is, do let other businesses have their say. Maybe they want more features added or some tools introduced—these do deserve consideration. Think about them and introduce those that you think are compelling enough and will pave the way for future revenue streams.

While it’s important to let your company directory be different, do remember that the pages should be in sync with one another –consistency must be maintained or else it could stick out like a sore thumb.

Take time off and see what’s working and what’s not. Be proactive and get feedback from your users to tailor the directory to suit their needs.

It’s easy to build a business directory but it’s hard and takes time and effort to build a good one. There are lots of business directory plug-ins that you can use to do all the basic and laborious tasks. So it’s not that difficult to do a good job of it.

Posted by Charles Yarbrough

Charley has been working as a webmaster since 1998. Since then, he has had his hands in thousands of websites and has helped millions get online through a company he partially owns called Web Host Pro.

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