How to Monetize Directory Websites

February 3, 2022

Even though it may seem like the time when directory websites were at the peak of demand has passed, they are still quite popular today. And capable of attracting a very big audience. Of course, launching and supporting a successful directory website typically takes an enormous amount of time and effort. But these investments have a potential to yield a very generous payoff in the form of massive online traffic. 


Of course, having a website with a huge audience is only half the battle. You also need to monetize it effectively in order to turn page views into profit. And this is another great thing about directory websites: they provide you with a huge variety of monetization options. Many of them are still effective in 2022, allowing the owners of directory websites to maintain multiple revenue streams that will generate steady income for years. 


Here are six methods of directory website monetization that we consider to be the most effective and profitable today. 


#1. Monetize your directory website by selling listings


Charging businesses for being listed on the directory website is one of the most obvious and common ways of monetizing such web assets. This method is not so easy to pull off as businesses need to see clear value in placing a listing in your directory. But it still can be quite effective, especially for well-positioned niche directory websites with a big audience that is relevant for businesses. 


Besides (or instead of) charging businesses just for placing a listing, you can also sell them upgrades to premium membership or access to miscellaneous extra features, such as top position on the page, the ability to add more text and images, and so on. 


Another proven-effective way to use this monetization strategy is allowing businesses to “claim” their listing. It has been successfully used by directory giants such as Yelp and Google Business. In line with this method, you post all the listings for free and do your best to maintain correct and updated information. Businesses have an option to “claim” their listing for a certain fee. When successfully “claimed,” they get the control over their respective listing and can customize it, adding or removing content, changing contact information and other elements of the listing. 


#2. Monetize your directory website with display ads 


Second major monetization method is also rather obvious but should be mentioned nevertheless: it’s display advertising. If your directory website boasts huge traffic, then it would be strange not to monetize it through various kinds of display advertising. How profitable it ends up being will, of course, depend on multiple factors, including the number of monthly visits, what is your website’s specialization, and where the bulk of its audience is located geographically. Considering that directory websites tend to comprise large numbers of pages, it makes sense to focus on banners offered on ad exchanges or supply-side platforms (SSPs). Preferably those supporting real-time bidding, which can deliver a lot of value when utilized for selling highly targeted impressions on specific pages of your directory website. 


Additionally, if you have a niche directory website, selling banners directly to business may also be a good idea. Even though this is usually much more time-consuming compared to using automated programmatic advertising platforms, it can potentially end up being a lot more profitable.


#3. Monetize your directory website with bookings and appointments 


If this is appropriate to the specialization of your directory website, then monetizing it by allowing users to make bookings and appointments directly on it, without going to other webpages, can provide a very strong revenue stream. Modern-day web technologies and APIs make it relatively easy to integrate such a functionality on almost any website, allowing you to take a fee for each confirmed user booking. To make the task even easier, you can just integrate your website with one of the major booking platforms that have open APIs for third-party sites (such as, Agoda, Expedia, etc.). 


#4. Monetize your directory website with business leads


One more non-obvious but potentially very powerful way to utilize directory website monetization is business leads generation. Any website visitor that has filled out a web form by providing some contact details (even if it’s just email) can become a business lead. Not all such leads are valuable, of course, so the effectiveness of this method would depend on their quality. Also, you need to be able to collect a considerable number of leads to start monetizing them. 


Additionally, you may consider using a CPA (Cost-Per-Action) network. CPA networks pay publishers for an action that users take on their websites. You can also use CPA network contacts to find a buyer for the leads you have already collected. When properly designed and integrated to a directory website, CPA offers are able to generate very significant revenues even with relatively small amounts of traffic by PPC advertising standards. 


#5. Monetize your directory website with affiliate products ads


Affiliate marketing is one more easy monetization strategy with a potential to work extremely well, especially if the products promoted are relevant to the information on the webpage. There is a wide range of affiliate marketing programs available for website publishers, from programs by Amazon, eBay and other online retailers, to offers from web hosting sellers, various SaaS products, discount services, and travel booking websites. 


#6. Monetize your directory website with sponsored content 


Sponsored content can be a great monetization technique as well, when it’s appropriate. Allowing businesses and individuals to post sponsored content for a fee can also bring you other benefits besides revenue. Most importantly, adding new original content to the website is always good for SEO, allowing you to improve your website’s position in search engine rankings and increase the traffic volume. While also making money, not spending it on new content. You would, however, need to come up with a clear guideline for creating sponsored content. And enforce compliance with it to make sure sponsored content is truly original and contains objectively useful information, not just advertising. 


Final words 


Don’t have time to choose and test various methods of directory website monetization? Outsource this headache along with all the other challenging aspects of your ad operations to professionals with proven expertise in the ad tech field. 


This is us! The pubGENIUS team consists of highly experienced specialists who are well-versed in the best practices and trends of the industry. We know how to utilize innovative technologies and ad unit types to optimize websites for individual publishers. We will make sure that your directory websites are using the most relevant monetization methods and your ad inventory is set up and operating with maximum capacity at all times. 


Get in touch with pubGENIUS Team to get free consultation 🙂