Best of the Web Introduces BOTW Local

MIHMORANDUM NO. 101 | June 24th, 2008Reader Comments (7)

BOTW Local

A Soon-to-Be Must for Small Businesses

My friend Eric Lander, in addition to writing some very nice things about me and the Local Search Ranking Factors project yesterday, also highlighted a very important news note in the Local space: Best of the Web has just launched a Local directory, appropriately named BOTW Local.

Greg Hartnett, President of BOTW, is one of my very oldest friends in this industry (I met him shortly after starting my business in 2006). At a local San Francisco SEO meetup, he went out of his way to help me think through my career path in search marketing, and took the time to give a fledgling web designer a link in Best of the Web.

Largely because THAT LINK showed up so prominently in early Yahoo Site Explorer searches of my own domain, I have encouraged most of my clients to seek out BOTW links ever since. It’s long been my contention that BOTW is the best directory link for small business owners, because for a one-time fee of $200 (most directories charge annual fees) it’s a guaranteed citation from a trusted, human-edited directory.

Now I’m advising small businesses to avail themselves of another BOTW offering: sign up for a BOTW Local profile–the free version is called “JumpStart.”

Currently BOTW Local is only being spidered for selected markets (Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Chicago and Austin), but even if you’re not in one of these markets, it’s ALWAYS good to be an early adopter, and these guys know SEO, and how to get spiders crawling deeply. It’s only a matter of time before all pages are well-spidered.

How to Sign Up:

I just walked through the signup process for my own business. It is a little clunky at the moment but I’m quite certain it will go more smoothly as BOTW receives more user feedback. The thing to keep in mind is that when you get to the screen below (accessible by the “sign up” link two paragraphs above this one), the “Contact Info” and “Business Address” headings are actually links that allow you to input your contact and business information.

For easiest usability, those headings should probably be underlined, but it was only moderately confusing.

The next screen looked fairly standard to me, but just in case that was only because I’ve seen WAY too many Internet Yellow Pages sign up screens recently, I’ll walk you through this one as well (darn! wish I had taken a screenshot). Basically, you’re prompted to refine your business type through several industry categories. Once you reach the third or fourth level deep (for instance, mine was something like Computers -> Internet -> Internet Marketing), scroll down the page just a bit to see the hyper-specific options you can select.

And once you’re signed in and confirmed, the dashboard to manage your listings is a cinch. You just send them an email to make changes from the following screen:

Conclusion

I expect BOTW Local to get little or no traffic as it is growing out its platform (a statement I expect to be false within a matter of weeks). But given the increasing importance of citations in the Google and Yahoo Local algorithms, BOTW’s superb site architecture will absolutely ensure that your BOTW Local listing is spidered by both engines. I’d love to have a nickel for every BOTW Local citation that shows up in the Google Local “Web Pages” tabs by this time next year–I could retire to Tahiti at the ripe old age of 27.

7 Responses to “Best of the Web Introduces BOTW Local”

  1. Eric Lander says at

    Great post David, and thanks for the reference. I made mention yesterday of the lack of SERP penetration I saw from BOTW Local. On the record, I retract that now. I’ve been playing around with a number of companies’ branded queries who happen to be in the spidered regions — and so far — so good.

    Beyond the local search impact of this search tool, reputation management campaigns will be mentioned too. I hope BOTW is prepared to police their social tools to help prevent false claims.

  2. greg says at

    David:

    Thanks a bunch for taking the time to poke around BOTW Local and provide some feedback. I’m not surprised to find that you thought the sign up process “is a little clunky at the moment”. We think it’s entirely too cumbersome, and are in the final stages of revamping a more streamlined and intuitive sign up process (say goodbye to the whole drill down refinement process). The main issue we had to deal with on the sign up process is the fact that we’re trying to collect a sizable amount of data. The soon-to-be-deployed sign up will be much easier.

    Additionally, the ability to make changes directly to your listing will soon be live as well. Currently, we have the “contact us” link that will put a user in touch with us to make changes to the listing. It’s a stop-gap measure so that users at least have a way to get it done – it’s not the final product. That will be much more wikipedia-esque, where a signed in user will be able to edit the page directly on the business detail page. My tech guys promise me that it will be super cool, and from what I have seen, I tend to agree.

    We’ve got a bunch more planned, and/or in the process of being rolled out. It’s been a fun build to date, and we’re really excited about continuing the project. Please, please, please feel free to give us additional feedback in the weeks and months to come.

  3. Dave Oremland says at

    I read the review and signed up a business. I’m waiting to see the results. I did a bit of searching through the directory and so far I’m just seeing results copied from phone directories. How can I tell? I noticed a listing for one of my businesses in it….with a phone listing that includes our name with A in front of it. (needed that #1 position in the phone directory–:D)

    I’m looking forward to seeing this listing go live and waiting for when you both open Washington DC to spiders and add some other cities where we have businesses.

    I can see via the sign up that it is far more representative of a more thorough description. Good….hopefully BOTW becomes a “trusted source” for local/maps.

    I’ll be interested in following this as you open it and iron out kinks.

    Oh one last thing. I was looking for businesses in the Washington DC area and for one other city and the map on the right kept turning up Spain. Now I’d like to be in Spain right at this moment but for future reference I’d prefer a map that corresponds to the region. :D.

    Best of luck with BOTW/local…..and thanks for the heads up, David.

    Dave

  4. Mary Bowling says at

    I, too, was thrilled to see BOTW’s new local directory. I agree that this directory is one from which all websites can benefit and recommend it to all our clients. They permit you to submit important internal pages of your site for valuable deep links, as well. I’m going to try out the new Local version’s sign up process right now!

  5. Dave Oremland says at

    I just wanted to leave a follow up note referencing that I added a business on June 26 (possibly June 27) for Washington DC and received an email back from BOTW that the listing went up on July 8. This is a free listing and was awaiting the DC region being opened to the Search Engines.

    I’m eager to see what happens after the section is opened to bots.

    Dave

  6. Steve Douglas says at

    Maybe I am missing something. Was there a location to enter the company website during sign-up? I don’t recollect it was there within the sign-up procedure. Rather pointless if the user cannot go to the company website.

  7. Jerry says at

    Great post David, and thanks for the reference. I made mention previously the lack of search engine result pages I saw from BOTW Local. On the record, I retract that now. I’ve been playing around with a number of companies’ branded queries who happen to be in the spidered regions — and so far — so good.

    I need to include an online saving account company.

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