Are Directory Websites Profitable? (The Secret For Success In [year])

hand on a banner for are directory websites profitable

Directory websites were a rage in the pre-2012 era.

However, people started abusing them and turned them into link farms for SEO.

Google decided to do something about it because it undermined its search capabilities.

With their Penguin algorithm update, websites were penalized for getting backlinks from directory websites.

As such popularity of directory websites started to fall.

Are they still relevant today?

Are directory websites profitable?

That is what we are going to find out today.

What is directory website?

A directory website is a list of businesses on a subject along with their contact details.

Although it is similar to search engines, the basic difference between a web directory and a search engine is that the former is a list of sites curated by humans while the latter is a list of sites created automatically by a computer program or a robot.

Types of web directory

The various types of web directories are as varied as different types of businesses, such as job directories, city directories, real estate directories, hotels & restaurants directories, education directories, automobiles directories, etc.

There can be separate web directories based on location too like local, national or international businesses.

Are web directories still relevant?

Yes. Web directories are still relevant from a business point of view. [Source: Vendasta

Web directories help in finding customers and suppliers in a particular location.

Web directories & SEO

For years, web directories were used to build backlinks.

Although a business directory website can help a business it is not good for SEO.

Using web directories for building backlinks is now considered spam.

The Penguin update from Google in 2012 targeted sites that used blackhat methods, such as building links from web directories, to rank their sites.

So, using web directories for SEO is a bad idea and Google can penalize your site.

Examples of directory sites

There are web directory sites that still exist today, but they have mostly transitioned from listing sites into review sites.

Here are some of them.


homepage of the best of the web website
Fig.1 BOTW website

BOTW or Best Of The Web is a business directory about various businesses across the US.

You can search by business types such as automotive, computers, health, home services, etc.

You can also search according to various regions covering various locales in the US.

There are various pricing packages to list your business, starting from $7 to $397.

2. AboutUs

homepage of the AboutUs website
Fig.2 AboutUs website

Similar to Facebook Pages, you can create an account and build any type of web page on AboutUs for free.

They earn mainly through advertisements.

3. Blogarama

homepage of the blogarama website
Fig.3 Blogarama website

If you have a blog you can submit your blog to Blogarama for free.

The list will be updated with your latest posts.

Ways to make money from directory sites

You can earn from a directory site mostly like any other site.

You can earn money through advertisements, membership fees, paid listings, selling leads, and becoming an affiliate of other products and services.

How to start a directory website?

The directory business model is actually very simple.

All you have to do is to provide a platform for other businesses to promote their businesses.

However, you have to keep in mind that, your site must get drive traffic to their sites.

You have to ensure that your site does not become link farms for others or else it may get penalized by Google.

Also, keep in mind not to start monetizing it until you have enough listings.

Although you can think of starting a directory website on a global level, it is best to start one for local businesses first.

Let’s now see how to start a local directory website.

1. Niche selection

Choose a particular niche for your directory site first.

Instead of building a platform for every type of business, it is best to cater to a particular industry first and then expand later.

2. Information research 

As you are building a database of various businesses, you should reach out to them.

So, research the various business entities of the locality and give them a platform to promote their business.

There should be a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) for them to list with you.

3. Promote

After you have collected a decent amount of listings you need to send traffic to these businesses.

So, promote your directory website either organically on social media or through advertisements.

4. Monetize

Yes. Directory websites can be profitable

Once your site gets enough traffic, you can monetize through –

(a) Memberships

You can create membership packages to list and view the listings.

(b) Advertisements

You can create advertisement packages for selling ad spaces on your site.

There can be featured listings, sponsored posts, etc.

(c) Sell leads

You can even sell the database to other businesses.

(d) Affiliate income

You can become an affiliate of other products and services, drive traffic to these sites and earn commissions from sales.

Are directory websites profitable?

Are you wondering how much to charge for a directory listing?

Well, in order to make your directory website profitable, you have to keep one thing in mind.

Please understand that nobody will be interested to list their business on your directory if they do not see any results.

Even if you provide the best features, all that matters to them is more sales.

So, ensure that they get enough traffic from your site first, before monetizing them.

Once your directory site is popular, you can charge anything for listings and advertisements.

I cannot say how much should be the ideal listing fees. 

You have to test that yourself and see how much they are willing to pay.

How to build a directory site?

For a directory website, WordPress is the cheapest platform.

All you have to do is to buy a domain, hosting, a professional directory theme, and launch.


Let us see what we have learned on building a directory website

  • A directory website is used to list different business entities according to niches.
  • A directory website is curated by a human being while a search engine lists different websites automatically.
  • There are different types of directory websites such as job directory, events, directory, real estate directory, hotels and restaurants directory, etc.
  • A directory website can be local or global.
  • A directory website is still relevant to local business houses for the promotion of their businesses.
  • Directory websites should not be used for SEO.
  • You can earn money from directory websites through advertisements, memberships, becoming affiliates, and selling leads.
  • The steps for creating a directory website are – niche selection, information research, promotion, and monetization.
  • The fees that you will charge from others will depend on the popularity of your directory website.
  • You can build a directory website easily with WordPress.

I hope I have cleared the air on the profitability of a directory website.

Now, decide for yourself whether you should travel this route.

Back To Top