How To Make Money With An Online Local Business Directory

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If I had to choose my single most favorite way to make money online it would have to be local business directory websites. They’re easy to set up, easy to rank and they automatically attract traffic. Oh, and they make a lot of money, too.

local business directory

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Local business directories are like an online phone book. Even if people have the Yellow Pages, nobody uses them anymore. Everyone turns to the Internet when they’re looking for information. And it could be your website they’re reading.

You have a couple of options when setting up this type of site. First, if you live in a very small town, you can set up one directory that lists all of the businesses in town. If possible though, it’s better to set up a niche site because it’s easier to SEO. For example, you could set up a site for Dallas Chiropractors, Dallas Plumber, Dallas Veterinarians, etc.

The key here is to do the research to choose your niche. Obviously, you want to choose niches that have a high number of searches each month. But it’s also important to look at the number of competing sites. And with this type of site, it’s actually better to have a bit more competition on the first page of Google.

Most small local businesses these days have some type of website and they understand the importance of ranking well in the search engines. But if there are 20 or 30 plumbers in town, they won’t all fit on the first page of Google results. That’s where you come in.

Choose an exact match domain name for your directory site and set up a website using a theme or program specifically for directories. Your mission now is to get your site ranked as high as possible on Google so that all of those businesses on the second and third page will be happy to pay to have their site included on your index because it ranks so well.

To get your site to appear at the top of the index you’re going to have to load it up with some keyword rich content and attaching a blog helps, too. Write articles that provide helpful tips and information about your niche, like Winter Heating Tips for your Heating and Air Conditioning niche directory. Then you’ll need to work on site promotion – article marketing, link building, you know, all the standard promotion methods you use for your other sites.

Now that you have your site ranking at the top for several keywords you can contact local businesses and see if they’d like to pay to be included on your directory. Of course, those who don’t already appear on page one will jump at the chance so your best bet is to start with the businesses that have the lowest rankings.

As you add their content to your site that will give you even more content which will also help improve your site’s authority and soon you’ll have local businesses coming to you begging to be included on your directory.

Most directory software has an automatic re-billing feature so this is literally a set it and forget it business model. And as you can probably imagine, it’s easily scaled, too. In fact, once you get the first niche directory up and running it makes it that much easier. You’ll have a high ranking site with satisfied customers that you can point to when you’re trying to get businesses to join your other niche directories.

How to make more money with an online business directory

You can set up dozens of these directory sites and make some good money. But the key to any business is to offer more services and really lock your customers into a long-term relationship.

Many small businesses understand the importance of having a website but they don’t have the time or knowledge to maintain it. And some businesses just want a page or two anyway just so they can get their basic information out there like services, fees, hours of operation and contact information.

Include an upsell with your listing that gives you clients their own web page that links off of their basic directory listing. Give them access so they can manage it themselves or charge a little extra and handle it for them.

You can also sell special advertising spots on the front page of your site or offer a ‘featured’ spot on the front page. You can add all kinds of special promotions and services into this that will increase your income and prevent turnover with your subscribers.

And don’t forget to put an opt-in form right there at the top. Even though you’re promoting local businesses, it’s still your site and you should always generate a mailing list with every site your set up.

When you're learning how to make money with an online local business directory, you need to understand that the very first step is to create a website. If you're interested in starting your own blog, I have written a step-by-step guide that will show you how to start a blog and make money for as little as $3.49 per month (this low price is guaranteed only through my link). You will also receive your own domain name for free ($15 value) by clicking on this link and purchasing at least 12 months of hosting with BlueHost. Keep in mind that if you're learning how to make money with an online local business directory, the first thing you need is your own self-hosted website. It will help you look more professional in front of your visitors, clients, companies, and everyone else.

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  1. Christine Perry

    I started my own site and have been clueless how to make money with it, I find your article most informative and will definitely try some of the things you mentioned. Thanks for this information – looks quite helpful.

    1. If your website is brand new, I would advise you to focus on traffic rather than money.

  2. Amin Shah

    Good informative article. Do you have any recommendations on which WordPress theme or plugin to use to setup a business directory?

    1. Amin, I don’t know about specific themes to do this, but as for any question like this, Google is your friend ;)

  3. Builders

    Should you keep all the websites 9 directories) with the same look or rather keep the all different style? Should be be connected to the same vendor/ Thanks a lot. Very informative article indeed.

  4. Nathan

    hi. im in South Africa and would like to start a local business directory. as I have read the information on the site it looks like a niche site would be preferable. What I actually wanted to do is to add all businesses in my area but will refrain from that. The other question is about how to generate an income. My idea was to physically go to the businesses and inform them about my new website. Let them know that I will put their ad on my website and there will be no cost for the first four months where after there will be a minimal fee. By doing this I would have received content for the site visitors and after four or six months return to the businesses and show them stats about the amount of visits the site has received from the beginning. Clients can then decide if they would like to continue with the advertising services or not. Please inform me if you think it is a good or bad idea

  5. Hi there! Love this article. I’m building a site to sell my video service. I make those short little interview videos for businesses. Right now most of my work comes from I got to thinking, I bet there are tons of these directory sites and boy was I right! I thought about contacting them and seeing if I could use their list to pitch a short video that they could use on their listing page and their own site.

    Then I read this article and I though maybe creating my own site and charging a fee monthly would be something I could do. I like the idea of recurring income and not having to shoot and edit a video every time I wanted to get paid.

    I assume with a directory site it gets it rank juice from all these businesses linking to it. I’m wondering how do you get those businesses to pay when the site is new? Do you get people to create a listing and then hit them up for a fee once the site is on the first page and getting traffic?

    Anyway, any advice would be awesome but if I don’t hear from you I would like to thank you for all the great content on your site. Really glad I came across it.

    1. I would advise you to start by creating the listings yourself for the most important businesses in the area.

      When your directory starts getting some traction, you will have some authority to leverage to get these businesses to pay for a “premium” feature.

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