Are Directories Dead?
Are directories dead? From a SEO perspective perhaps they are. Webmasters have been saying for years (and especially since the Penguin and Panda algorithm updates) that placing links on overcrowded directories doesn’t do much for your organic rankings. Admittedly, I’ve bought directory listing placements in the past. Although I looked to see if it was a “hand submitted”, niche-specific directory – positive results were often few and far between. Why would Google ever place emphasis on an inbound link that came from a place where the entire site was literally just “links”.
I believe though, that if executed properly a directory website can still provide value to users AND search engines. The web was founded on links (isn’t Google after all just one big directory). Although now most everyone goes to search engines to find what they want back in the day you could have gone to a number of portals. A directory theme could be useful in several cases. For example, say that you want to create a community around local veterinarians in your town. While there are Google Maps and Yelp to help you find a vet’s location they lack the peer recommendation and community aspect that says, “trust me with your pets health”.
The Directory Portal WordPress Theme
This theme was just released on ThemeForest and it caught my eye for several reasons, chief amongst them being that it’s entirely unique. I searched for other WordPress directory themes and couldn’t find any pure “directory”-style layouts. Although there are a few dealer-centric themes that integrate Google Maps in a big way none have the hybrid feel of a directory. The Directory Portal WordPress Theme features:
Responsive Design – Pretty soon I’m going to start excluding this as a factor on here. If you plan on utilizing a theme like this then it’s important to realize that it’s location-based and people will be searching predominately on their mobile phones. A local resource-based WordPress theme should be able to scale out nicely on mobile devices, especially on phones. You should also use “click to call” where there are phone numbers. But if the design isn’t responsive and doesn’t scale out on mobile devices users will get frustrated and leave your site. To the right is what the portal theme looks like on a mobile phone. It’s cropped a bit, but under the map the search options appear, giving users the ability to search your site from their phone.
Integrated, Customized Search
WordPress search inherently sucks (out of the box) and often themes use the default search function which can be problematic for several reasons – most annoying is that it displays content by “date published” rather than relevance. The directory portal theme adds a custom search, filterable by location and categories.
Baked-In Advertising Spaces
This is nice if you plan on relentlessly promoting and making this site a full-time gig (or paying someone else to run it). Affiliate advertising is extremely hard and can take a lot of publishing and steady work to come to fruition. The portal theme has several areas that are pre-made for advertising space, predominately above the homepage and inserted within the content on subpages.
A Premium Admin Panel
No one likes having to dig around in the CSS files to change the look of your website. It’s especially annoying if you have a client who doesn’t know their way around the WordPress backend let alone going in via FTP. With a theme as robust and functional as portal it important that you’re able to adjust as much as possible within the WordPress backend.
Who We Recommend The Portal Theme To
This theme is impressive. Head over to ThemeForest to check it out in its entirety. The design is clean and the Google Maps integration is seamless. While the custom search function isn’t necessarily ground breaking IT IS a necessity if you want to keep people on your site and reduce bounce rates. If you’re looking to build a community website then you should consider the portal theme.