How to Monetize Directory Sites

Directory (listing) sites generally have a very specific page structure and the users follow behavioral patterns. In order to monetize directory sites to an optimal level, it is important to understand the general structure of a directory site and the user behavior of their audiences. Below is the general structure of a listing site:

  1. Homepage: Main page
  2. List page: Could be a category page or an internal search page
  3. Detail page: The detailed information page of the specific item

Most users begin on the homepage, they browse what they want on the list pages and they view the details about the info they might want on the detail page. The goal of the user is to get to the detail page that has the most relevant info to what they want. There are three ways a user could arrive at the appropriate detail page:

  1. Browse categories: The user clicks on one of the categories and browses the lists within that category page (List page).
  2. Internal search: The user enters a search into the site’s search bar and browses the search results pages within the site.
  3. External search/referral: Users initiate a search on an external search engine or are referred to a detail page via a referral source.

The first type of user will go through a lot of page views to find what they want or will exit. This user will see a lot of ad impressions but will rarely click on ads. The second type of user is a more efficient user which will most likely find what they want depending on how optimal your site is. If you have ads targeted to their search term they entered, they will likely click on the ad if your site doesn’t have what they want. The third type of user is more sporadic in their user behavior. They are the “clickers” of the internet. They will not spend much time on your site and have the highest likelihood to click on your ads. It’s important to utilize ad networks like Chitika or Chango to fully take advantage of these types of users.

What are some best practices to fully monetize each type of user while maintaining a sticky site? Put minimal ads on your homepage. This is usually the user’s first impression of your site. If it is jam-packed with too many ads, the user won’t take your site seriously. If a user happens to click on an ad on your site, you could have lost out on a potential long term user before they gave your site a chance. It’s more important to monetize the deeper pages where you have more niche content for the contextual advertisers to better target. The goal is to have a user click on an ad if they’ve decided they can’t find what they want on your site. It’s like the user saying thanks for helping by leaving a little tip at the end.

The real money is made on the list and detail pages. For most listing sites, the list pages get the most page views. It is important to stick a custom ad size at the top and bottom of each listing page and feed XML advertising into these spots. The goal is to integrate these ad blocks so they look like they are part of the content. You can achieve this with Google AdSense if you’re a preferred publisher, Chitika, and The detail page is lucrative for banner advertisements because it is so niche. The content contains very niche information that allows for targeted contextual advertising. The content most likely has long tail relevant keywords.

These long-tail keywords (Very niche) get high CPM payouts. A general rule of thumb: More niche = Higher CPM + Higher CTR = Higher Revenue. Make sure to place ads below titles and besides pictures. You should really try to utilize the page even below the fold. Users are much more likely to browse below the fold in the detail and list pages so, don’t forget about the bottom portions of the page.

There you have it, know how your directory site is structured, know the users that you’re monetizing and know how you are going to monetize them.

Kean Graham

CEO and Founder at MonetizeMore

Kean has been a pioneer in the AdTech world since 2010 who believes in the supremacy of direct publisher deals, programmatic advertising, and building ad technology as keys to scaling ad revenue. Here, he provides publisher resources and guides covering areas like website monetization, AdSense optimization, Google Ad Manager, Ad Exchanges, and much more.

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  1. Dsnplt

    Very simple and actionable information. Now, I’ll take my monetization efforts more serious.

    Thank you.

  2. martin

    This is a great article.
    I will suggest this to my friends.


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