Are online design directories effective for luxury brands?

This question was recently asked in a LinkedIn group forum.  I was amazed at the lack of understanding of how niche directories benefit design firms, luxury or not. Yes, maintaining your design directory profiles can be additional work and sometimes have costs associated with membership, but it is well worth the investment.

Here are six reasons why:

01

SEO VALUE

We wouldn’t be doing our job educating the trade without attention to the basics. Inbound links to your site help build your websites domain authority. In general, domain authority is a proprietary ranking system design SEOmoz that provides insight to how your site will perform in search rankings.

A key factor in ranking your authority are inbound/outbound links. Yes, it’s a numbers game. So our advice is to join directories that fit your brand and business objectives but also consider inbound marketing as part of your strategy to boost search results.

02

PORTFOLIO EXTENSION

Every successful design directory has a portfolio feature. Take advantage of other people’s sites to distribute your content online. If your firms website limits the amount of project images on your own website, then allow directories access to images you aren’t currently utilizing.

03

DESTINATION WEBSITES AND AUDIENCE

Studies show that prospects spend 6-8 hours online and spend most of that time on destination websites that cater to their needs. For the trade, design directories and blogs are destinations for prospects. Your firm website isn’t a destination, and unless you have millions of dollars to spend, it is unlikely that you will ever build your site to become a destination per se. The best you can hope for is to make your site findable in search and visible in social media. (Actually this goes a long, long way.)

Most design directories provide a media kit, which clearly displays monthly visitors and audience reach. Use these tools to gauge whether or not a particular sites’ directory is right for your firm.

04

LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD

If your firm can’t compete in print media, then change mediums and join online directories where there seems to be a more level playing field. I sometimes hear from designers that middle market directories don’t particularly align with their target especially in the luxury market. If this is true, then ask yourself why Tucker & Marks has a profile on Houzz, one of the largest middle-market online design directories?

The sheer reach of a site like Houzz suggests that luxury buyers are exposed to the content housed here (pun intentional) … although we agree that this is more of a mid-market site. If you are trying to extend your brands’ reach and compete with a firm like Suzanne Tucker you owe it to yourself to take a second look at Houzz.

05

TARGET MULTIPLE DIRECTORIES

We always recommend to our clients to regularly develop and distribute content across multiple platforms to increase brand awareness. When it comes to designer directories, many of these sites curate content differently. These diverse approaches should be taken into consideration whenever your firm creates content for your multiple designer profiles.

For example, Dering Hall invites industry leaders to join their directory and regularly features firms based on how active they are in uploading fresh content in their profiles. Other directories like Elle Decor are available to all that apply, however, feature an A-List Design Directory but it isn’t clear HOW they select the designers they put on the A-List.

Our point is this: you need to customize your content to meet the differing requirements of the directories. Also, its a very rare designer that can afford to limit themselves to a single directory. Spread your brand through multiple directories to up both your reach and get frequency going, ensuring your target is exposed to your portfolio as many times as possible.

06

PERCEIVED VALUE

The old school mentality was that if your project made it into the wheel of Arch Digest and eventually selected for print, your firm had “made it”. The industry perception was that being printed in AD was a career or firm milestone.

In terms of online content, wouldn’t the same be true if your firm joined the Elle Décor directory and were selected for the A-List Designers? Or was selected to be part of the elite designers featured on Dering Hall?