The Epik Product Portals have been a huge hit, with over 1200 portals already in production. For names like IceCreamMaker.com, the Epik | Product platform is an excellent way to increase the value of the domain and tap into the search volumes that would otherwise never come to the site. But, of course, not all domain names are so product-centric; many names with high exact search volumes are better suited for directories of businesses or places. They require a different platform.
Last year, Epik rolled out a first generation directory platform. It offered fairly rudimentary business listing and the ability to add articles and videos. However, the ability to offer more attractive layouts, customized searches by business type, and, in general, a greater sense of depth to the information, was more limited that we liked. So, we want back to the drawing board. After months of development, we are delighted to announce our next generation Epik | Directory platform. Or, more accurately, three new Directory platforms.
1. Service provider directories
Service Provider Directories list businesses that offer services to consumers, such as restaurants, hair salons, doctors, etc. On these sites, visitors can get the information they need about the provider so that they can decide whether to eat at that restaurant, select a new stylist, etc. The directory provides a list of businesses, and, for each business, a detailed profile page that describes their location, services, hours of operation, etc.
A business can also create additional profile pages for each of their employees. A hair salon, for example, can create separate pages detailing each of their stylist, their specialties, etc. This enables users to not only explore whether they want to go to that salon, but also to help them determine which particular stylist is right for them.
A service provider’s profile can include not only the usual text information, but also videos, photos, reviews, etc; the same is true for the staff profiles as well. There can also be a hierarchical relationship between these pages and their content. So, for example, a salon could create a gallery of all the hair styles created by their staff, but the gallery on the profile for an individual stylist would only show the haircuts that he/she personally created.
As with most Epik sites, we leverage our platforms such as Comments.com, Questions.com, and Identity.net to create aggregated, cross-linked, and original user generated content as well as single sign on. And, because scheduling an appointment or a reservation with a service provider is such a common requirement, we will soon be rolling out the ability for these service providers to offer online appointment scheduling through integration with Appontment.com.
Service providers can claim or create their business listing. Many of the platform’s capabilities are available for free through our Basic tier of services. More advanced features such as profile customization and online appointment scheduling, will only be available through higher, fee-bearing Premium and Pro tiers. Consequently, the directory platform offers several ways to generate revenue from a site.
2. Proximity directories
Another type of directory is one where the primary concern, is where something is. For example, consider a directory of wifi hotspots or emergency rooms. The user wants a map of the nearest solution to their needs, and usually not much else. And so we come to the second type of Epik directory, in which the user interacts with the majority of the site information through an interactive map. To be sure, more detailed information is available, but the emphasis here is on where something is, not a detailed exegesis.
- Another difference between proximity directories and service provider directories is who “owns” the information. For a restaurant or hair salon, it is important to their business that they claim and control the content of their profile, the photos of their facility, etc. The tiers of service give them greater and greater control over that information.
However, in the case of the proximity directories, the data is more suitable for crowd sourcing. If, for example, someone discovers that there is a new public wifi hotspot available at the corner of Fifth and Main, they can add that to the site, and other users can review and vet that information. In other words, the community becomes the driver of the site’s information in a way that is inappropriate for a directory of business, who must necessarily control their information more closely. The explosive success of Foursquare.com is a good case study of how this can work very well.
3. Geographic directories
Last, but not least, are more general directories of people and business, but oriented around a particular geography such as a city or town. These directories are much more horizontal in nature, as opposed to the vertical nature of the service provider directories, and are analogous to a local phone book’s white and yellow pages.
Tying it all together
As a parallel development effort to our three Epik | Directory solutions, we will also be releasing soon a unified master directory under the name TelephoneBook.com. This master directory of contact information opens up the potential for creating a network of networks, including the possibility of aggregating foreign phone directories that adopt the unified framework for directory management. As the web data becomes more structured through the incorporation of semantic technologies, this becomes the obvious evolution of phone directories.
Getting started with Epik | Directory
We offer any of the three types of directories in whatever combination of subject and geography is appropriate. For example:
Dining.com MontereyRestaurants.com SeattleSushi.com
As for pricing:
$999 for vertical directory, e.g. Dining.com
$549 for a geo directory, e.g. Seattle.com
$249 for a geo-vertical directory, e.g. SeattleDining.com
Everyone at Epik is excited about the new directory platforms and their ability to drive traffic and multiple streams of revenue for these types of domain names. We look forward to helping you build out some of your domains on these new platforms.