Posted 2008-11-17 in Guides
This is the ultimate guide for launching a profitable bidding directory with phpLinkBid. It takes you step by step through planning, building, customizing and promoting your site to guarantee success in the exciting world of bid directories.
Beginners will find all the basics covered in this guide, and experienced phpLinkBid users will find a comprehensive review of the essentials.
If you're new to Web directories, read The Web Directory Primer first. If you're familiar with Web directories but new to bidding directories you can just read the section on bid directories. You can also check out the demo to see a basic phpLinkBid site, and read more about phpLinkBid to familiarize yourself with the many features it has.
Once you understand the basics of bidding directories, you're probably anxious to start your own directory. Everything in a phpLinkBid site is completely automated. This lets you - the directory owner - enjoy instant payments to your PayPal account with each new bid. There are also addons available to enhance your directory and make it more profitable.
Planning Your Site
If you want to make
the most of your investment it is wise to plan ahead and put some
thought into your new project. It doesn't need to be a comprehensive roadmap - just get an idea of what you want to do.
Research the competition
Look around at what other directory owners are doing. Check out the latest phpLinkBid sites in the Directory Announcements forum and the phpLinkBid sites list. Pay attention to what other directories are offering, and think about how you can do even better with your own site. Your competitors are also your partners, and a constant source of inspiration.
Identify your audience
Who is going to advertise on your directory? If you want to target the largest audience possible, you will need a name and image that will be suitable for many topics. If you want to target a niche audience, decide who buys advertising for that niche and craft your image around their tastes. The most popular categories for bid directories are general, Webmaster, directory, entertainment, business, and health. Don't be afraid to explore untapped niche categories though.
Choose a domain name
Unless you're installing phpLinkBid on an existing Web site, you will need a new domain name. Select something that's easy to remember, relevant to your audience, catchy, and if possible contains keywords related to your niche. You can register a new domain name or buy an existing one. Buying an old domain can help you find names that are otherwise hard to get, and sometimes they will already have traffic and backlinks.
If you're purchasing an existing domain name with PageRank or backlinks, be careful if the domain was recently dropped because they might not last long. Selling links on dropped domains with PageRank can be misleading, and is usually frowned upon in the link bidding community. If you are using a dropped domain, be honest about it and make sure you continue promoting the site.
Web Hosting & Installation
Hosting your new directory
You will need to host your new site somewhere. HostGator is a stable and popular choice, but phpLinkBid works fine with most Web hosts. The only requirements are support for PHP, MySQL and mod_rewrite. Usually the smallest package is fine for a single phpLinkBid site.
Installing phpLinkBid is explained in the manual, and it's usually a very easy process so we won't go into much detail here. If you are installing multiple addons, we recommend installing the PageRank Checker first, then Advanced Link Stats, and Link Effects last. Addons can be installed at any time, but if you plan to do a lot of customizations it is usually easier to install these from the beginning.
Once phpLinkBid has been installed you are presented with the default template and a few example links. Now you can start configuring your new site.
If you haven't already, log in to phpLinkBid Admin. Before you do anything else, there are a few critical steps you must take.
If you don't do the above steps, don't expect anything to work right!
Now take a few minutes to look through some of
the options in Directory Configuration. Set
"Category Drill-down" to "no" unless you will have categories that are
several levels deep. Also set your minimum bid, minimum bid-up and link
approval preferences. This is where your personal
preference comes into play, so look at all of the options available before continuing.
Customizing Your Site
Create your categories
Setting up your categories is very important. Unless you are intentionally running your directory in Letters mode (where links are organized alphabetically), you should never skip this step.
Categories are a fundamental part of your directory. The categories you set up will determine who finds the directory useful, who wants to add their link, and how your site will be viewed by search bots. Categories are the meat of any directory. They provide traction for your visitors, they organize all of the links in your directory, and category descriptions bring fresh content to each of your category pages. Take your time at this stage to create categories that your users will be interested in. Write category descriptions that add unique content and useful explanations to your site.
Not only does this establish unique content on your Web site for search engines, it shows your users that you took the time to build your site and that you care about the quality of your work. Avoid using spaces and special characters in your category tags - usually you just want to use letters, numbers, underscores and dashes. You can use almost any character you wish in the category titles.
Add links to your directory
Having an empty directory is almost as bad as having no categories. In the beginning you should try to add at least one link to each category on your site via admin. Make a point of filling the Top 10 Links on the front page.
From phpLinkBid admin, you can add a link in Manage Links, then add a bid for the new link in Manage Bids. You can add your own sites, or sites that just fit well with the category and which you recommend.
However do not exceed the minimum bid with your own links. Adding links at a bid higher than the minimum bid you have configured for your site is misleading to your users.
Customize your theme
Changing the look of your directory is one of the most important steps you can take. Using a custom theme will distinguish you from other directories, and show visitors that you took the time to improve the site.
There are many free themes available, or you can buy a custom theme. If you decide to customize your own theme, read the section on customizing themes in the manual, and visit the phpLinkBid themes forum for more resources and help.
You don't need a completely new theme to stand out, though. With a little HTML experience you can easily edit the default theme and add text, images and other content. Simply adding a custom logo or a paragraph telling about your site will help your bid directory stand out.
Promoting Your Site
When you're finally happy with your site and you're ready to start taking bids, it's time to promote.
Know what you're promoting
Before you start promoting your new directory, create a list of the valuable benefits people will receive by listing on your directory. Clearly define your best points in a short list, for example:
Type up a summary of your site that you can post on forums, submit to directories and send in emails using the benefits you have listed. Try to show why listing on your site is worth the time and money in as few words as possible.
The five fundamental steps
Web site promotion is a broad topic, but there are five simple things you should do for every directory you launch.
These five fundamental things will get your directory exposed to quite a few active directory owners at no cost.
Advanced Topics and Promotion
If you're feeling comfortable with everything presented in this guide, and you're ready to get really serious, check out How to Maximize Earnings with phpLinkBid. This article is a comprehensive look at running and promoting your directory, and will introduce you to many additional concepts and ideas for taking your directory to the next level.
To make the most of your site, discover new ways to improve your directory, and keep up to date on the latest in bid directories you should visit the phpLinkBid Forums and check the phpLinkBid Blog regularly.
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