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  1. #1
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    I have a domain name that I haven't been doing anything with. I've been bouncing around the idea of creating an on-line mall (sort of). Here are my thoughts...

    Do you guys have any luck just linking directly to the merchants site vs using products?
    It will be database driven, however, I don't have tons of free time to dedicate to it. I'm thinking more or less a Merchant Directory instead of a Product Directory. I'm looking at categories similar to the way CJ has their categories set up.
    Just doing merchants will be easy for me to maintain within the database, however, showing products would be a nearly impossible mission.
    Do you guys see any future in doing something like this?
    I also welcome any feedback or additional ideas on this.

  2. #2
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    I run such a directory... it has high points and low points. In general, my product pages out perform the directory pages about a bejillion to one.

    But if you can optimise the pages so that they do well in the search engines (like top 10), it makes a significant difference. I have one page that does top 10 on a number of phrases and that one directory page out performs ALL my other directory pages put together.

    Rest assured, I am in the process of optimizing the other pages. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    And given last December (when my site was barely a month old), I expect the directory portion of the site to do EXTREMELY well Nov/Dec. But I don't count on it for daily cash flow. YMMV.

    I think one key to a successful directory site is, unlike a product page, VOLUME of options. That gets your site bookmarked. I don't pull all the non-performers out of the directory -- I consider their presence spidey food and surfer food, a loss leader.

    I also think a "keyword" field in your database is critical. I can have 73 shoe merchants in my SHOE category and they can ALL sell DANSKO shoes, but if someone searches on DANSKO and none of my 73 shoe merchants show up, the surfer will leave... and you can't list ALL the brands in the printed description, so a "keyword" field is critical. IMO.

    BIG TIP: "Shop By Brand" drop down menus at merchant sites are a dream for such a keyword field. Snag the html, strip the html code, voila, GREAT data for your keyword field.

    I check what people are searching on my site about once a week -- odds are I have merchants for EVERYTHING they've searched on. Odds are not always so good that they actually found the merchant. Every week I add more and more to the keyword fields dependent on site searches.

    Can it be profitable? Yes. As profitable as product pages? Not to my experience. YMMV.

  3. #3
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    Cedric,
    Some great points, and the info is great. I'm working on adding the search option right now, and the keywords part is a great idea. I've always heard that product pages are more profitable, as they are more targeted, etc. My problem is having the time to add products for so many merchants...perhaps I could do a featured product or what's hot...a way to get some products in there, etc...we'll see. Thanks for the great feedback!!!

  4. #4
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    Another option is to create one (or several) mini malls - choose a few good converting merchants (similar products or at least themed) with good prices and make 3 or 4 product pages with their "Deals & sales".

    I find it easier to get one of these to the top of Google than a large mall because all the pages are related in theme,

    For instance..., childrens bedroom decor (mall) a page of sheet sets/comforters, a page of window coverings/wall hangings etc, a page for furniture, and maybe a page for bath towels/shower curtains and other accessories


    If you choose the right merchants, the links should be good for a while and even when it needs updating, its easier to deal with.

    I have several such mini mall sites and they do much better than I had hoped they would.

    a few of mine include health, home decor, kids, and tv products....and so on..

  5. #5
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    MsMary,
    Thanks for the reply. That is something to consider. OTH, the database software I'm using creates static html pages that are divided up into categories. Each category, in fact, each page, has it's own meta-tags, etc. I use something similar for one of our music sites and it seems that SE's pick up on the subcategories frequently. If I did a mini-mall, I would then have the option to offer the products....sheesh...decisions, decisions...

  6. #6
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    TH Media,

    If possible -- that is if you have no
    problem letting us know -- What is
    the name of the database software you're
    using.

    I've been looking exactly for that type
    of database -- static html.

    Thanks
    Anne

  7. #7
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    I don't know what TH Media is using (I can guess), but I can HIGHLY recommend the "Links" database by Gossamer-Threads. They have both a SQL version and a Perl version. Absolutely beautiful database program (HIGHLY configurable) that creates static HTML pages.

  8. #8
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    Anne,
    Cedric is correct....We are using Gossamer Threads.....an incredible program, and it is easy to configure. I'm not a perl guy, but it was easy to find my way in to change things that I needed to change to fit our site. I recommend downloading their 'free' version, and trying it out....if you like it, then upgrade. If you will be adding many, many products, I recommend going with the MySQL version...with their standard 2.0, the flatfile database can get pretty big and it starts acting a little flakey when you get a lot of products in there...

  9. #9
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    Thank you Both! You've saved me a Lot of
    time!

    Anne

  10. #10
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    FWIW: I am using an antiquated copy of Links (Perl version -- pre-SQL version even existed), and things may have changed significantly since, but I DID NOT find it easy to install.

    Which is why I am still using the antiquated version (which I have paid for for multiple uses, btw) that has all my hacks (I've made many) and a basic template I can redo pretty easily.

    I just wanted to say that, unless things have changed DRASTICALLY, not everyone will find it easy to install. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  11. #11
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    Cedric,
    I too am using Perl only....the very first time I installed it on a domain, it was a struggle for me...that was the first perl program I had ever installed in my life...Now that I'm more familiar with installation of scripts, it has become much easier. In fact, this directory I'm setting up didn't take a lot of time to install since I've now done it a few times. It wasn't until recently that I started going into the code and making changes to fit my needs...

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador webmarm's Avatar
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    Oky,
    I just spent farrr too long looking at the script site, then doing a search on google for sites using the script, and.....

    I have no idea what you are all getting at, LOL! Okay, granted that most of the sites using the free version seemed to be for non-profits and thus not looking at turning a buck, but my brain is stuck in product page mode and can't even see the use of this script for making money, unless it's related to a zeussssy type of thing were all the links in the directory go to your sites and pages?

    How was that for a run on sentence?

  13. #13
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    oh good lord, no zeussy type thing, webmistress, lol. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    Think of it as a business directory. For example, my business directory has categories something like Collectibles, Computer Supplies, and Automotive. In those categories I feature links to such sites as GoCollect, TigerDirect, and JC Whitney.

    Make sense now?

  14. #14
    ABW Ambassador webmarm's Avatar
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    Lol, thanks, Cedric. Sometimes my lack of imagination is a real draw back. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

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