We’re pleased to announce that Brownbook now lists over 34 MILLION businesses in over 240 countries. Founder Marc Lyne was recently interviewed by global tech news powerhouse TechCrunch about the site, you can read the whole story on TechCrunch right here:
Brownbook is proud to support BarCamp Miami 2009!
The event will take place on February 22nd, 2009 at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida and also includes WordCamp- focused on the WordPress blogging platform.
For additional information regarding BarCamp Miami please visit: http://barcampmiami.org/. You can also check out the Wikipedia entry for BarCamp here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BarCamp and the BarCamp wiki here: http://barcamp.org/ to learn more.
We released sprint 12 of Brownbook yesterday, just in time for us to relax a little for Christmas. You may already know we use an Agile/Scrum development process which sees us breaking all our development down into 2 week ‘sprints’. Each sprint is followed by two day’s testing, then we make it live. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the main front-end changes in the last two sprints:
- The number of tags shown on search results pages is now restricted. This is because some business owners are using very large numbers of tags, and whilst they are all relevant they were making the results pages hard to read. So, on the results page, you now get a summary of the tags, with full tags shown when you click to the business details page.
- Press links in home page footer. We’re starting to build up quite a collection of write-ups and reviews from people like BBC, Wikinomics, and more. So we figured by putting them on the home page new people will get a better idea of what we’re about.
- “more…” links on home page. On the home page you see up to 5 of the last businesses added and edited. The new “More…” link lets you click through to see older entries. This is useful for helping newly added and newly updated businesses get indexed by the major search engines.
- Bugs – fixed a few bugs including the text editor in ‘customize my page’ in Safari that was not saving changes.
- Return to previous page upon login. Now, when you login, you are returned to the previous [page you were on, instead of getting directed straight to your ‘my account’ page.
- Twitter this. A new link in the tools bar on a business details page lets registered Twitter users tweet the business details with a link to the page.
- Hall of fame. A link in the home page footer links to show the most active users in terms of contributions and earnings (how much they’ve earned for their contributions)
- Community forum. A new community forum where registered members can discuss any topic relevant to Brownbook and promoting local businesses. Would be great to see some tips posted in the sections about customizing your page and creating your website.
- Shorten password. We had some request to change the password minimum length from 8 characters to 6. Done.
- Various changes to Bidgets to provide better presentation of content in narrower Bidgets on external websites.
- Fixed some issues with videos playing in IE7.
- Fixed some erroneous emails. Welcome email going out to wrong users (embarrassing one, that).
- New banners on results pages and business details pages to promote the benefits of Brownbook for business users and consumer users. We’ve tried to keep them out of the main page area and hope they don’t interfere with the main page info. Feedback most welcome.
- Encode email addresses. At the suggestion of one user we’ve now encoded all email addresses that are displayed on Brownbook pages to prevent unscrupulous people from scraping email addresses and using them to target spam. (Thanks Don at HTML Fixit for this suggestion).
- Use your own domain name on Brownbook ‘create my website’ feature. A link to a help page which explains how to use your own domain name with the website you created in Brownbook.
- File size and format information on video and photo uploads in ‘create my website’ and on video units and image units.
- New look for your public profile page.
- Moved the ‘tools’ on business details page from out of the main page area to a horizontal space at the top of the page. This is to allow the main page area to ‘belong’ entirely to the business without distractions. Works especially well when the business owner has customized their page. Take a look at this example. This also required the movement of the country selection flags, which you can now see in the brown strip of the page header on all pages.
- Slight re-jigging of the business details page to remove superfluous headings and some wasteful white space.
- New ‘Brownbook for businesses’ and ‘Brownbook for everyone’ videos courtesy of the lovely Lisa P. Also new texts on each of the pages that follow the videos to describe new features (chiefly ‘customise my page’ and ‘create my website’ for business owners, and ‘user earnings program’ for everyone else).
- Some ongoing new SEO work to make indexing by the big boys even better. Ie get found even more easily and quickly in the search engines when you add your business to Brownbook.
- Fixed some non-English character (accents etc) support problems in tags.
That’s about it (what, you mean you wanted MORE??).
Right, its Christmas eve now, and I am definately up for a glass of sherry about now. We’re into Sprint 13 as of today which is a quick one over the festive period, then back to formal 2 week sprints at the start of January with some great new stuff for you so keep watching.
Happy Christmas and New Year
Dave and Marc
Here are two videos from Dave that tell you how to make the most of your business listing on Brownbook – hints and tips, what to look out for and what really works:
And part 2…
As im sure most of you are aware Brownbook has been busy launching its new customization features and the DIY website creator. We also want you to share your Brownbook success stories with us. Plus we chat about advertising during a recession. See the full newsletter here.
Brownbook continues to gather pace. Out latest coverage in The Canadian Gazette is an interesting feature focusing on the demise of traditional phonebooks and the growing popularity of online local search alternatives like us – that offer consumers so much more. To read the article click here.
Want to get inside my head? You can follow me on Twitter, my profile is here http://twitter.com/daveingram and click “follow” (if you don’t have a Twitter account you’ll need to register first).
Dave Ingram, CEO Brownbook.net
I had an interesting chat by email with one of our business users yesterday and today, the main subject of which was how best to list his business which operates statewide in Florida, USA. The recommendation I gave him and will give any business that covers a wide area is use one listing, and then use the Business Tags to denote towns or areas. Our search uses the business name AND the tags amongst other things, and the SEO on Brownbook.net puts a lot of emphasis on the tags too. This means your one listing gets you exposure against searches (in Brownbook.net and on the major search engines) across many areas, plus you only need maintain and update one listing.
We’re also noticing that recently updated businesses are benefitting from mopre frequent crawling by search engines, so do come back and keep your page fresh, either by ading or updating a detailed business description, photos, videos, or getting customers to add reviews.
I’ll leave the last word in our conversation to Marcus, owner of Singing Telegrams based in Clearwater Florida but serving the entire state:
“You have no idea how this helps my business, I had an advertising catastrophe and now I have to make up for lost revenue – I can use all the free advertising I can get. So, once again, THANK YOU!!!!!”
Do check our Marcus’s business listing right here
and if you need anything from a dancing gorilla in pink tights and a tutu, to a Marylin Monroe celebrity lookalike, drop them a line.
It always makes my day when someone takes the time to write and tell us how Brownbook.net has helped their business. I had a really pleasant email from KK in Lincoln, UK, here’s the take-out:
“I updated my listing to my new company Your Constant Gardener which is my gardening business and today we got a phone call from a new client thanks to that! So, that is great for us, and now I’ve also added my other company Safarista to the Brownbook too!“
Thanks KK. All the best, D.
PS: if you’re looking for a Gardener in or near Lincoln UK, or a Web Designer in Lincoln, UK, check out KK’s business listings here, and make a call:
Here’s the skinny:
- Related searches – When you get a results page following a search, you’ll notice a new panel called “Related searches” (top right of the page), click on related business tags or location tags to perform a related search. When you click a related business tag or related location tag Brownbook.net uses an algorithm to substitute the new tag with one of your previous keywords, making an intelligent guess as to which keyword(s) to replace. Give it a try, see what you think. <b>Business Owners</b>, make the most of this by adding more relevant tags to your business listing so you come up in more places in results, helping new customers more easily find your business.
- Changes for Claimed Businesses – Last month we allowed you to lock your business listing when you claim it (this now happens automatically when you claim your listing) but we still allowed people to update your tags. This month we’ve changed it so that others can ADD relevant tags (which enhance your ability to get found) but they can’t edit your existing tags (thereby undoing the great tagging that you’ve spent time on).
- Anyone can invite reviews – This is in keeping with our ethos of NOT making it mandatory to register to do the most common actions. In this way we allow business owners and customers to invite others to review businesses without having to first register, thereby making it easier to get and give great testimonials.
- Changes to our search algorithm – We’re making some important changes to our search algorithm to present better and more relevant results to users. Business owners, this means you’ll get found more often (so long as your tags are relevant of course). Whilst we don’t publish our algorithm the main changes are improving the priority of businesses that have bought the priority listing promotion, improving support for accented and special characters, adding a positive weighting to recently modified/added/reviewed business listings (business owners, be sure to update your pages/tags/reviews regularly to benefit from this).
- Improved search engine indexing – One for the business owners… we already benefit from great organic SEO in the major search engines (meaning: being listed in Brownbook.net helps your business get found all over the web) and we’ve just made some further tweaks which are improving that still further. Generally these relate to improving the way that the site is organized and therefore improving the visibility and usefulness of pages for the major search engines as well as users.
- Improved claim process – We’ve simplified the claims process, making it easier and faster to claim your business listing as well as helping you configure any promotions. It’s now much simpler to add photos, videos, and detailed text to your business listing, plus it’s more obvious how you can go back and update them to keep your business page fresh and engaging.
- Bigger photos and videos in reviews – We’ve doubled the size of photos and videos in reviews, so now it’s easier to see what the reviewer wanted you to see, and for reviewers your photos and videos are much clearer for viewers. Previous photo and video reviews are not dynamically resized, but its easy to update your past reviews with new (or the same) photos or videos which will display in the new larger size.
- MUCH improved help pages – The new help pages provide answers to every single question we’ve ever been asked. And as new questions come along we’ll update the help pages accordingly.
- Improved ‘contact us’ page – In concert with the new help pages this gives you a ‘first port of call’ by pointing you to the most commonly asked questions in the help pages (the fastest way to get answers to common questions), plus gives you a mean to get in touch so we can answer any questions that are not covered in the help pages.
That’s about it for now, I’ll have more news in about 3 weeks when we release the next set of improvements for you. Remember to keep your business listing up to date, and help us spread Brownbook.net by telling friends and colleagues.
All the best