Unless there are funds available for promotion with PPC most web startups go through these phases. By understanding these phases one can go through them faster to the point of success. Local directories can get a site listed to being the traffic flow.
Traffic Flow needs to be the first goal – “content is King”
1> A site is built and lacks traffic to get without funds labor needs to be put effort in SEO. Depending on the type of business different methods can be used to begin to get traffic.
1.a> The content type of the service may be so unique and in demand that people already have an interest and share / link to it because it is such a good idea. Most businesses do not fall in this category. Controversial businesses do fall in this category – but also suffer because by their nature not all people agree hence will not become customers.
1.b> The business relates closely to a vertical which is of interest and by its nature has content of interest which others will link to. In this case the related content can be published resulting in a beginning traffic flow – Much like a magazine, ads for service are placed on these same pages.
1.c> Other sites with traffic can be used to advertise the new product or service.
Old school has often built directories of sites as a resource – these directories showed up in search engines and ads were placed in the directory to the owners business. Kind of a all roads lead to Rome setup. However, small directories rarely show up in google’s current algos.
1.d> Many types of business can tie into current events – news; this can often be accomplished by using a blog.
2> Once the site is getting traffic flow because of the sites position more and more content intended to convert traffic into profits is added. Apparent afterthought profits are not really afterthoughts – some startup web sites take considerable risk before converting to a profitable web site; Look at for example youtube, facebook and twitter – they have the traffic but have not fully converted into for profit sites. Youtube is in the process of moving into a Pay for view model for current movies – facebook is in the process of moving into offering coupons – twitter is in the process of moving to allow ads to be embedded in the user news streams.
Return on investment
Almost always (unless funds for marketing the site are available) one must have content first to promote the site … Local businesses listing may appear to break the mold – however those directories that provide them are building content that already has a brick and mortar business model – Yellow Pages. And content is testimonies which people have an interest in.
The vast majority of sites which fail have done so because they do not have content of interest. They expected people would come to a new site because it was built or existing customers would spend more because a site was built. They did not consider that they must spend money to make money or that they must provide something to make their site interesting to get natural / free / organic traffic from search engines.