What Everybody Ought To Know About Business.com

in Interviews 31 Comments »

businesscom.gifBusiness.com is one of those directories that everyone has heard of, but most people know little about it.  Even being in the directory industry myself, I knew very little about this premium directory.  I wanted to know more, and fortunately, Jessica Bowman, the Director of Search Engine Optimization at Business.com answered all of my questions.

1.  Please provide a brief biography so that my readers know who you are.

jessica.jpgI joined the Internet bandwagon in 2000 as a usability architect and made my way to search engine marketing in 2002.  After nearly 10 years at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, I moved to Los Angeles last fall and started working for Business.com. I’m an in-house SEO and write for Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Journal.  In the few non-working hours, I love the theater and foreign travels.

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When You Are Thirsty, Drink Links Juice

in Interviews 3 Comments »

linksjuice.gifOne of the up and coming aggressive young directories is Links Juice.  It’s owner, Terry Bytheway, generously agreed to an interview.  Terry is also the creator of the 5 deep links mod for the Site Sift Listings Directory script, which is well worth implementing if you use the Site Sift script.

1. Please provide a brief biography so that my readers know who you are.

Right now, i work full-time from home as a webmaster and have one SEO client. I am lucky enough to enjoy all sides of life relaxing, partying and working.  I run Linksjuice.com and a string of 30 or so websites.

2. Why did you start a directory?

I first started a directory because as an SEO with some websites which are on sensitive topics it’s quite hard to obtain links for these, so at first it was purely to benefit my link building campaigns. But then i noticed there was quite a big untapped market for directories, that’s when i came up with LinksJuice.

3.  Where does the name Linksjuice come from?

Well you often hear about “PR Juice”, “Link Juice” and “Google Juice” so i thought it was quite a relevant name for a directory.

4.  How important are a directory’s backlinks? What would you consider a “relevant” backlink for a directory? How does LinksJuice go about improving its backlink profile?

Like any other website, backlinks play a vital part of SEO and
Internet Marketing. The stronger the links you have, the stronger your website/directory will be, making it a more valuable resource for webmasters and end users.

From day one, I’ve had a vigorous approach towards building backlinks, I obtain links from template sponsorship, website text links and a dozen other methods.

5.  What are your recommendations for marketing a directory?

My recommendations are to make your directory “buzz”. Jeff i’m sure you heard a buzzing sound from your directories? Lol.  Create a “buzz”, get your website’s link or banner placed on big and small websites and don’t stop until you know inside that you’ve done a good job!

6.  What are your thoughts on directory affiliate programs?

Recently, I launched an affiliate program for LinksJuice but I’ve been busy as hell with LinksJuice and other projects so I haven’t had much of a chance to market the affiliate program as much as I would like to. I love affiliate programs, it’s a nice easy way to get some extra cash in your pocket. Especially if you have targetted traffic.

7.  Lately, a lot of bidding web directories have sprung up.  What do you think of them?

There are tons of new directories being made daily, and with every fad on the internet (proxy websites, arcades etc) I think they will die down. Although bidding directories like BigWebLinks.com which are promoted very well will continue to set the trend for newcomers.

8.  Matt Cutts has stated recently that Google will be cracking down on paid links.  What impact do you see Google’s crusade having on directories?

I personally don’t think Google will have much success with cracking down on paid links as there is already uproar about how they are doing this. Although if they do have success, what will they do with the bigger corporate websites that sell links? There will be biased views, and they will get no genuine results from this crusade.

I don’t think this affects directories, as I’ve already seen many people changing their payment requirements to ‘Review Fees’. Googe cannot flag our websites for charging others for reviewing their website.

9.  What advice would you give to someone new starting a directory?

If you are serious about starting a directory, save up to have a budget before you start so you know where you stand. I see too many people buying expired domain names with Google Pagerank and claiming they are directories. That is clearly not the way to go forward.

10.  How many hours per week do you work? How do you manage to balance work and family life? What hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

I usually fit in about 7-8 hours a day of work. I’m not as old as you may think I am, so my family is my parents and girlfriend so i have more than enough time to fit them into my life and progress with work at the same time.

I really enjoy what I do for work, but other than that i go for daily bike rides and do weight training. I like going out and partying like any other normal person.

11.  Sex or a quality backlink: which would you choose and why?

Ouch! Haha that is a tough one! Is that a quality backlink for
lifetime, and no sex for life? I’d have to go for sex! A quality backlink is tempting, but come on.. :)

12.  What other directories do you own?dirflux.gif

Right now, i currently operate two directories. LinksJuice has been my first major directory project. Since LinksJuice i have setup Dirflux.com Web Directory which is very new but it’s still under development.

13.  What other types of sites do you run?

I have alot of different websites, i mainly focus on niche health sites including bodybuilding and weight training but then i have travel sites, celebrity fan sites, and quite a range of totally different sites.

14.  Could you give me one concrete recommendation as to how to improve Aviva?

Jeff, you’ve done an awesome job so far with Aviva.  I don’t think there is much you can learn from me. One thing I would say is keep up with promotion and just try to make it a good place for the end users to visit.

15.  When are you going to get around to submitting your directories to Aviva?

Last time i checked, I had half a dozen websites listed in Aviva. LinksJuice is not one of those, but i’ll be sure to submit it once i’m finished with this!

16.  Any interesting developments for Linksjuice coming in the near future that you can reveal?

I operate LinksJuice on my own, so with other work I get bogged down with things to do in such a short time. But one thing i am planning is to be stricter on submissions, you may have noticed some listings are not in correct categories due to me being shy of moving links, but that will soon change once i hire a full time editor to manage this job.

Thanks Terry and best wishes!

Interviews of other directory owners:
Greg Hartnett of BOTW
Dimitris Kessaris of 2yi
Shawn Walters of UTN

Exclusive Interview with Shawn Walters

in Interviews 6 Comments »

One of the oldest, most established web directories is Uncover the Net.  Its owner, Shawn Walter, generously agreed to an interview.

1. Please provide a brief biography so that my readers know who you are.

Well, I’m in my late twenties, and live in a suburb of Chicago.  I started working online as a web designer back in I guess 2000.  Then I took our other businesses that were print, tv & radio based to web based and from there never turned back!  Then worked for some SEO firms as a consultant.  But realized I could do better working for myself.  Now I live online.

2. Why did you start a directory?

I always thought the idea of a search engine powered by humans instead of machines was a really cool idea.  I also saw many flaws in the directories at that time.  So I made a list of all the things I didn’t like about other directories and tried to make sure ours didn’t include any items on that list.

3. What about Uncover the Net makes you the proudest?

Probably what makes me the proudest is when I get an email from an everyday user that goes out of their way to send an email telling us how they like our site.  I remember once we got a letter in the mail explaining how they used our search engine for a project in school and they wanted to thank us.  I just think that’s amazing.  I know many people use Google and other spider based search engines, but sometimes especially on highly specific topics, directories are your best bet.

4. How did Uncover the Net develop its taxonomy?

Myself and the editors at the time developed the structure.  I would say that much of it is a combination of Yahoo Dir, DMOZ, and common sense.  I have to thank Michael as he helped the most.

5. How do you go about ensuring editorial integrity at Uncover the Net given the number of editors you have? How do you go about finding quality editors for Uncover the Net?

Well, we have a program that checks for dead links, adult content and a few other triggers.  When reviewing a site for the first time, we’re actually not as strict as people tend to think we are.  I’m not saying we’ll accept MFA websites.  But I think some directories go overboard when dictating what sites to accept and not accept.  If a website has heavy advertising content that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a valuable resource.  If we used that philosophy, About.com would be rejected every time. We also don’t punish anyone for having bad site design.  In short, if we think the website ads value to a searcher’s experience we will add it.  If it ruins the experience, it won’t be added.

6. What do you look for in a quality directory?

High ratio non-paid listings to paid listings.  Editorial integrity.  Titles that aren’t all keyword based.  Descriptions that are clearly written and not just sales copy.  Relevant search results.  More than just a list of links.  I guess the list goes on.

7. What do you think of SEOMoz’s page strength tool as a measurement of the quality of a directory?

Don’t know, never really used it before.  I don’t believe a tool
can determine the value of a website.  I’d look at the website itself.

8. How many hours per week do you work? How do you manage to balance work and family life? What hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

I work too much.  I guess I work about 10 hours/day.  I have my laptop with me wherever I go.  My hobbies, well I love movies.  And I splurged and had a home theater built in our house, so I pretty much live in there now.  It really helps me unwind.

9. What do you think the future holds for the directory industry, both for the coming year and the long term future?

Hmm, that’s a tough one.  If you mean strictly a directory, I think it has a limited lifespan.  In fact, when people ask me what Uncover the Net is, I just say it’s a human powered search engine.  Everyone seems to love that concept.  Most people don’t even know what a “web directory” is.  Many probably think its an online phone book.  Directories will have to evolve to keep users interested in using them.  For instance, they’ll need to make sure they offer a ton of features in addition to just categorized links of the web.

10. With improving search algorithms and the rise of social bookmarking websites, is the job of building a quality and comprehensive directory becoming irrelevant?

Not at all.  In fact it’s becoming more important than ever.  Even Google is starting to cross the line of advertising and content with their new PPA ads.  Soon enough the entire web will be one big Viagra commercial.

11. Could you give me one concrete recommendation as to how to improve Aviva?

Well, like the movie, build it and they will come.  What I mean is build the directory for searchers, make them happy and I guarantee the webmasters will come.

12. Any interesting developments for Uncover the Net coming in the near future that you can reveal?

Tons.  Most are all in development stages though.  The biggest news is that our entire software/website is being rebuilt and should be ready in a few months with tons of new features.

Thanks for opportunity Jeff!

Thanks Shawn and best wishes!

Other interviews of Shawn:

Interviews of other Directory Owners:
Greg Hartnett of BOTW
Dimitris Kessaris of 2yi

Exclusive Interview with Dimitris Kessaris

in Interviews 7 Comments »

One reason I set up the page strength list for directories was to help identify quality directories that were not well known.  If you take a look at the directories that have a page strength of 7, you will see 2yi.net – known as Your Index Directory – up there with heavy hitters such as Alive Directory and Sevenseek.  Now I submit all of my sites to Your Index.  Dimitris Kessaris, owner of Your Index, gracious agreed to be interviewed by me.

2yi.gifHi Dimitris! Please provide a brief biography so that my readers know who you are.

Hi Jeff, I was born and raised in Greece where I also live now. I am a 27 year old professional dietitian with an MMedSc in human nutrition with specialization in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Glasgow and besides my online ventures I run a nutrition and dietetics counseling practice.

Why did you start a directory?

To be honest I never thought I would run a directory but out of impulse I bought one but wasn’t happy with it, so I decided to start a new one from scratch and that was when I started Your Index.

What about Your Index makes you the proudest?

I will be totally honest, I am not proud of Your Index yet, give me a year and if everything goes according to my plans I will have quite a few reasons to be proud of it.

How important are a directory’s backlinks?  What would you consider a “relevant” backlink for a directory?  How does Your Index go about improving its backlink profile?

Backlinks are important for various reasons. They provide direct traffic and help you increase your search engine rankings and as a result provide indirect traffic to the directory and consequently to the listings. Also, whether we like it or not, most webmasters look at the link popularity of a directory before submitting their sites. So yes, they are

Now, about the question of what would I consider a relevant backlink for a directory the answer is simple, any kind of link. As I have said in the past a directory contains more content about topics like shopping or travel than webmaster related content so a link from a travel or shopping site is equally if not more relevant than a webmaster related link.

Finally, to answer the last part of your question my main focus was to build sustainable backlinks by providing linkable resources that would help me get backlinks but would also be useful to the average internet user. 

How did Your Index develop its taxonomy?

This is one of the parts of Your Index that still needs a lot of work and to be honest I am not very happy with the current category structure mainly because when I started the directory I knew very little about how to create a category structure. My goal was to create a category structure that wasn’t huge but would be “adequate” at the same time and grow as the listings increase.

What do you look for in a quality directory?

I look at various things like the sites my site will be listed next to, if there are sitewide links, if the page is cached, the number of hits that sites in my category are getting (if they are mentioned) just to name a few.

The fee for submission to Your Index is only $9.95.  Is that on the low side for such a quality directory?

I never intended to make Your Index a completely paid directory.  However, due to some issues that didn’t go as I expected I decided to turn it to paid but keep the submission fee at a level that most people would afford. Don’t be surprised if in the future I reopen free submissions.

How many hours per week do you work?  How do you manage to balance work and family life?  What hobbies and interests do you have outside of work?

I probably work more than I should, about 14 hours per day in the weekdays and 5-6 hours per day in the weekends. However, I am thinking of it as a temporary sacrifice in order to have more time and be able to enjoy the things I like after a year or two.

Family and personal life are not at the level I would like them to be right now, and like a lot of people I almost only enjoy them during the weekends.

My hobbies are rather cliche, I enjoy music (Massive Attack and Manu Chao are my favorites), spending time with friends doing nothing, reading books when I have the time and photography. I also enjoy a good game of backgammon (not online) or three cushion billiards.

What do you think the future holds for the directory industry, both for the coming year and the long term future?

This is something that I have been thinking for quite sometime but I don’t have a clear answer. My guess is that we will see a big shift towards niche directories.

With improving search algorithms and the rise of social bookmarking websites, is the job of building a quality and comprehensive directory becoming irrelevant?

I wouldn’t say irrelevant since directories have something that both bookmarking sites and Search Engines lack, editorial control (whether that’s good or bad). However it will definitely become more difficult and this is the reason I believe we will see a shift towards niche directories that are easier to manage and establish as comprehensive resources.

Could you give me one concrete recommendation as to how to improve Aviva?

I believe you are already doing a great job with Aviva.  In my opinion what would help is to add more hand picked listings an advice that I should definitely follow myself as well.

Ed. note:  this was recently started.

indexzilla.gifYou also own Indexzilla.  Any plans to start a new directory?

No, not a directory but at some point I am planning to create a nutrition guide where I will not be accepting submissions but populate it myself.

Any interesting developments for Your Index or Indexzilla coming in the near future that you can reveal?

Nothing major at the moment, I am planning on adding a few content pages at your Index that I believe would be a useful resource for Internet users. The major updates that I have been thinking of will happen sometime after the Summer (if everything goes according to my plans, both online and offline)

Thanks so much for your time Dimitris and good luck with all of your endeavors.

Further Resources:  Dimitris also runs a Directories Blog in which he gives his thoughts on directories.  Although not updated as often as I would like, each post is a gem and well worth the read.

The Secrets of BOTW’s Success Revealed

in Interviews 10 Comments »

One of the leaders in the directory industry is the Best of the Web Directory.  Greg Hartnett, President of BOTW graciously took the time to discuss his directory and what has made it the success it is.

1. Please provide a brief biography so that my readers know who you are.

I started on the internet in the late 90s when my business partner, Brian Prince, and I founded Hotel Hotline.  A couple of years later we started another company and purchased the BOTW Directory from a handful of professors at the University at Buffalo.  Additionally, we own another startup, with a service just ready to come out of beta. So we keep pretty busy. 
I am a husband and father of two, I speak now and again at conferences, and I try to snowboard as frequently as possible. I’ve got a bit of a nomadic spirit, and have recently relocated to Northern California.

I currently serve as the CEO of Hotel Hotline, and the President of Best of the Web.

2. Why did you become a webmaster?

I knew that I wanted to work for myself, and the timing was perfect to get involved with an online enterprise.  At the time, the barriers to entry were remarkably low, the earnings potential was limited only by one’s effort, and there was this feeling that the business world was wide open.  A new frontier had opened, and I was determined to claim my stake. Much of the landscape remains open for those with the gumption to take a stab at it, which I imagine is why throngs of people continue to flock to the web to make their living.

3. Why did you create your directory script from scratch instead of using an off the shelf solution?  How is your directory script different from the major off the shelf scripts on the market?

When we transformed BOTW into its current state, there were no off the shelf directory scripts, so we really didn’t have a choice.  In hindsight, I’m very happy that it worked out the way it did.  In an effort to get our offering live, we probably would have chosen a script, and then we would have been less unique.  I really don’t know how we are different from the off the shelf scripts, as I have never had the need to look at any of them.

4. What about BOTW makes you the proudest?

There are many things I like about being involved with BOTW.  However, the thing I enjoy the most, and gives me the greatest source of satisfaction, is getting the opportunity to work with the crew that we’ve assembled.  Our core group of people is the best and brightest in the industry, and working with them makes me a better person.

5.  What has been the role of guerilla marketing in building BOTW?

We wouldn’t be around at all without guerilla marketing.  We started the company on a shoestring budget, and had to fight tooth and nail to survive.  Even to this day guerilla marketing permeates our culture – it’s kind of addictive when you have some success with it.

6.  How important are a directory’s backlinks?  What would you consider a “relevant” backlink for a directory?  How does BOTW go about improving the quality and quantity of its backlinks?

I would imagine that backlinks play the same role for directories that they do for most other sites – they’re pretty important if you want people to find you.  I think that any link that cites your directory for reference would be relevant.  It’s all about the context and how is the link being used? I’ll take a link from any site that wants to cite BOTW as a point of reference.  We just focus on building a quality resource and when we do our jobs properly, the links just come in.

7.  Do you think that adult categories are appropriate for a directory?  Why?

That would depend upon your objective.  With BOTW, our goal is to build a comprehensive collection of all information available online, which would include sites with adult content.  I guess if you have a directory that isn’t all-encompassing, it may not be appropriate for you.
8.  What percentage of links submitted get rejected?
If you look at all of our submission processes, our rejection rate is close to 40%.  There’s a lot of garbage out there, and it doesn’t have a place in BOTW. For webmasters who submit through the commercial queue, if their site gets rejected we do offer an appeal process.  Additionally, if after the appeal the site is still not BOTW material, we do offer webmasters the opportunity to present us with a different site for review.  But it is a non-refundable review fee, and site owners need to remember that they are paying for a review, and not a listing.

9.  I notice that when you speak about directories generally, you tend to bash the directory industry.  Why is that?
I’d argue with that observation.  I don’t know that I have ever bad-mouthed the industry.  I have upon occasion warned webmasters to avoid submitting their sites to low quality directories, and I’ll continue to do that.  Quite frankly, not all directories are created equal, and webmasters should be wary where they submit their site.

10.  Similarly, I notice that you normally don’t submit BOTW to be listed in other directories.  Why is that?

We do submit BOTW to directories.  BOTW is listed in DMOZ, MSN, Yahoo and a few other high quality directories.  I’m much less concerned with quantity, and more focused on quality,  a policy I would recommend other site owners emulate.

11.  One comment I often hear from webmasters is that they want to submit to BOTW, but the price is too high.  Why has the submission fee been set so high?

Pricing is a funny thing –  you’re not going to please every person, regardless of where you set the review fee. It’s all about the value proposition, and we set our pricing to what the market will bear.  We are one of the best directories out there, so why shouldn’t we be priced accordingly?  If you compare us to Yahoo at $299 annually or Business.com at $199 annually, our current price of $69 annually is quite a bargain. 
12. What do you look for in a quality directory?

More than anything, I would examine the quality of the sites listed.  Is the directory listing any site that pays or are they only listing sites that contain relevant information for the category?  Is the focus of the directory on the user experience, or is it simply a listing service for webmasters?  Are they adding sites on their own to create a resource of relevant information, or are they relying on paid submissions for their build?

Additionally, I’d consider the taxonomy, and navigability of the directory.  Are the sites being listed in a relevant and intuitive manner, or are they being placed in categories in a haphazard way?  Age of the directory is another thing I’d consider. A history of providing a quality resource would go a long way in my decision.

13.  What do you think of SEOMoz’s page strength tool as a measurement of the quality of a directory?

I think it’s a useful tool for webmasters, but I don’t know that I’d put much emphasis on it in determining the quality of a directory.  As mentioned above, the quality of a directory should be determined by examining a handful of factors, of which PageStrength would be a minor one, at best.  It’s great at telling you how strong the links are that are pointing to the directory, but I wouldn’t put too much weight in it (note: BOTW is a PageStrength 8 out of 10).

14.  Botwmedia.com: another spammy blog network, or making the internet a better place?

The BOTW Media blog network has a storied past.  We started the project by hiring a few dozen writers to post articles on a daily basis.  If you go through the archives, you’ll see that at the beginning we were jamming out a lot of content.  Well, the management of 60 freelance writers became too much to deal with, so we decided to change direction.  We didn’ want to just shut everything down, so we decided to change the blogs to best-of-class aggregators.  So for each topic you’ll get news from the best blogs of that genre. 

To answer your question though, I guess the jury is still out.  Quite frankly, I don’t know how much value they provide, and until we can get a handle on a long-term plan for the blogs, we have a moratorium on new blog development.

15.  How many hours per week do you work?  How do you manage to balance work and family life?

I work between 60 and 70 hours per week, which is down a bit from my more ambitious days. I’m fortunate to now being able to work from home, so the work/home balance is easier to manage, though the lines become a bit more blurred.  I still make the time to take my kids to school in the morning, play with them when they get home, and have dinner with my family every night.  I try to remember why I’m working so hard, and not let my ambitions take too much away from enjoying time with my family.

I’ve found that by getting up super early, I can get in 12 hours of work daily, and still have time to spend with my wife and kids.  By waking up at 4 or 5 AM, I can get in a full day of work, and be able to wrap things up early enough to enjoy a good part of the day.
16.  You are well known as a social activist.  Do you think that business and politics mix?  Would you ever post about a political topic on your company blog?
I think we’re mixing politics and social awareness here.  I’m more interested in larger societal issues than politics: poverty, peace, racial equality, human rights, wealth concentration, and corporate governance – all those types of things.  Those shouldn’t be political issues as they affect each of us, regardless of which side of the aisle you choose. 

Politics and business may not mix well, but there should definitely be an alignment of how you run your company, and how you want the world to operate.  Is your company making the world (and not just your bank account) a better place?  How do you treat your employees and those that you do business with?  Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”  I think that applies as much in the business world as it does in your personal life.  If you’re serious about making changes, how could that not carry over to your company?  I don’t see how there could be a disconnect.

However, I don’t think I’d ever post anything specifically political on the company blog. I don’t want to be speaking for the entire BOTW team on such matters, and we use it to communicate with our users about what’s going on with BOTW, so it really wouldn’t be relevant. I try to keep my musings confined to my personal blog, GregHartnett.com so if anybody feels alienated from what I am writing about, it has as little effect on BOTW as possible.
17.  With improving search algorithms and the rise of social bookmarking sites, is the job of building a quality and comprehensive directory becoming irrelevant?
Definitely not.  Social bookmarking sites and directories need not be mutually exclusive.  If a user wants to find quality resources on a given topic, a directory will always maintain relevance.  And search engines will continue to rely on directories for guidance – a quality directory makes the job of spiders easier.

18.  Could you give me one concrete recommendation as to how to improve Aviva?

I’ve got a few for you.  First, I’d remove the Reciprocal Link as an option of listing type – I think it sends the wrong message, and cheapens the editorial integrity.  Secondly, I’d recommend offering a recurring charge for listings.  A recurring revenue model will help in your long-term growth.  Lastly, I’d add more listings.  Hire an editor (or do it yourself) and add as many great resources as you can to each category.  Your users will appreciate it, and it provides great spider food.

19.  Any interesting developments for BOTW coming in the near future that you can reveal?
We are pretty focused on rolling out our verticals.  We launched our first, the Enterprise Software Vertical a few months ago.  After we finish a redesign and a couple of technology tweaks, we’ll bring it out of beta and begin our marketing push.  By the end of the first quarter, we should have our second vertical offering, and we’ll probably launch a couple more this year as well.  We see a huge opportunity in the vertical, lead generation space, and we are going to do everything we can to position ourselves properly to capitalize on it.  It should be an interesting year.

It certainly will be an interesting year.  Here are some additional interviews with the chaps of BOTW:







Interview with Jeff @ Aviva Directory

in Interviews 2 Comments »

Here is an interview done with me by Directory-Owners.com Forum and originally posted at:  https://www.directory-owners.com/interviews/592-interview-jeff-aviva-directory.html

Well this interview is with Jeff who is the owner of Aviva Directory

I would just like to thank him for taking part!

Q. Are you able to give us a short insight into your background?

I’m in my late 30s and live in Ottawa, Canada. I’ve been playing around on the internet for about 5 years now, but Aviva Directory is my first serious internet endeavour.

Q. How did the idea of Aviva Directory come to you?

I was submitting my websites to a lot of directories. I would often look at the directories that were supposed to be good and think I could do a better job.

Q. With Aviva Directory when could you tell that you was on to a “winner”

Well, that’s an interesting question because it really shows how my perspective has changed since I started Aviva Directory. Back then, I thought that building a directory would be a one-time effort. I originally planned to build up a good database, get some good backlinks and let things take off from there.

Now that I’ve been at it a while, I realize that a directory is something you need to work on every day, continually building it up. So, I don’t really like to think of it as a “winner” as then I’ll get lazy. I plan to keep working on Aviva directory every day for years to come.

Q. What promotion methods do you use?

Everything I can think of. I think promotion through other directories has worked well, as well as in the webmaster forums.

Q. It seems Aviva Directory has a massive financial backing. Do you think without the presence of the finances that Aviva Directory could not have got to where it is today? If so do you believe that having money when starting a site is recommended?

I’ve had experience with offline business and one of the wonderful things about the internet is that it takes so much less money to start a business than it does offline. In most offline businesses, it is hard to get started without tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of capital whereas online a few thousand dollars will normally suffice.

I do think that one of the best ways to launch a new website, be it a directory or any other kind of website, is to spend $2,000 to $3,000 in quality directory submissions. That builds a solid base upon which you can move forward.

You can build a successful website without having much money. It just takes longer and is more difficult.

Q. With so many directories, what do you see for the future of the directory industry?

There is always room for more directories. The more directories there are, the easier it is to build your backlinks. In fact, I think that there is a shortage of *quality* directories.

Q. Who do you think is your direct rival in the directory sector?

As I said, I think that there is a shortage of quality directories, so there really isn’t much rivalry in the industry. The fact that directory owners can get together and talk and help each other in a forum like yours shows how friendly the industry really is.

Two people I admire in the directory industry are Chris Hoffman (Alive Directory) and John Scott.

Q. In your view what are the benefits and disadvantages of running a directory?

Benefits: I’ve learned a lot about the internet and what sort of websites can make money and which ones don’t. Many websites that submitted a year or more ago to Aviva Directory no longer exist. Similarly, certain types of websites seem to be able to afford a lot of directory submissions.

Disadvantages: I think that Google has it in for directories and treats them more harshly than other types of websites.

Q. With many website owners now placing high level’s of attention to SEO, do you think that directories will have to evolve to keep up with the changes on the internet?

Yes. I think that directories are going to need to develop to the point that they’re useful to the general web surfer, and not just webmasters.

Q. What do you think are the main key points to a successful directory?

Editorial integrity. This means:

1. It hurts to refund a $74.95 featured listing, but if the website doesn’t deserve to be listed, it shouldn’t be. If too many bad quality websites get listed, not only will you hurt your directory’s reputation, but the search engines can detect this too and will de-index your directory.

2. Regularly checking websites. One of the most common things is for people to submit a quality website. Then, if you go back a month later, you find that they’ve replaced it with spam. You need a system in place to ensure that all your listings are reviewed on a regular basis.

3. Not just adding paid submissions. The reality is that there are a lot of quality websites that don’t do directory submissions. There are a lot of reasons for that – they may be a small non-profit and don’t have the funds; they may be a large corporation or government organization; or they may not rely on search engines for traffic. You need to scour the web actively looking for quality websites to add to your directory.

Q. How do you relax at the end of the day? Are you able to run a very successful directory and still have a personal life?

The day never ends! I get up at 7 a.m. and normally work until at least midnight or 1 a.m.

My personal life revolves around my family. I’m married with a 3-year-old son. I spend as much time with them as I can. My directory is named after my wife, Aviva, which means Spring. The graphic in the top right hand corner represents Spring.