This post is for the Local Digital Publishers that use (or are considering using) Bizyhood Platform on their site. We hear two questions pretty consistently regarding adding a business directory to your sites:
- We don’t think they work. Why do you think they do? (This question comes from publishers we aren’t working with yet)
- We know this will work. What are you doing to help us continue to grow it? (This question comes from publishers we currently work with)
Let’s address both questions now.
Do Business Directories Work?
People are surprised to learn that we agree with publishers who tell us that business directories typically don’t work. Because, on their own, they don’t. A business directory needs to be part of a larger platform in order to be effective.
We’re so confident about this that we’d like to stop using the term “business directory” to refer to our content. Maybe we’ll introduce a new phrase in a subsequent post. In the meantime, why don’t they work?
- A business directory by itself is static content. Without new and fresh content added regularly, it has little value
- Most local publishers don’t offer a powerful and integrated search experience. So, readers are not searching for anything on your site. That means they aren’t “finding” any businesses through you.
- Items #1 and #2 lead many publishers to manually create content to promote businesses. This is time consuming and if you’re doing this, those manually created pages are getting relevance from search engines, not the business directory.
There is a reason that Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare and other directory sites show up regularly at the top of Google results – they have figured out how to add regular content to their directories, and they code each business listing in such a way that search engines know exactly what’s on each page.
But the fact is, your listings can show up on page 1 of search engines too. We simply have to move past the three issues above and build authority.
What Is Bizyhood Doing To Make Our Sites More Authoritative?
We have been building and testing different ways to promote content on local publishers sites, and focusing heavily on business (Places) information. This has shown some promising results. This is what we’ve learned and what we’re doing with the knowledge we’ve gained:
- Build a kick-ass search experience. We currently have a way to search for any business in you community by name, category or by any content that is associated with that business on your site. Even content created by the business owner or readers.
- Change how the content is shown. We don’t need to show a directory listings page that lets readers page through thousands of businesses. In other words, re-think what a directory actually is. It isn’t a list. It’s a living and breathing entity, on your site.
- Make it easy for readers to find what they’re looking for, and then connect them to the business(es) that match their needs.
- Let you easily promote businesses that want exposure for having a premium Business Page
- Get the business owners involved in the process. Let them create their own content. This frees you up to focus on journalism, and adds additional content about the business, making them easier to find. Everybody wins. You can even charge businesses to add content for them, which is the way it should have been from the beginning
- Make it self-service. All your local businesses are used to Google and Facebook. Easy to use. Self-service. Total control. Give them that.
If I’m Already Using the Bizyhood Plugin, What Should I Change?
We just launched a new version of the Bizyhood Plugin for WordPress. It has a few new features and bug fixes. Most important things you should change include:
- Make “Business Guide” your new landing page. Stop using “Business Directory”. As we said, a landing page of just listings that readers can cycle through hasn’t been a good user experience. Business Guide can be customized by you any way you want. Add a nice image of your community to the top of the page. Add some content and a call to action for businesses to sign up. By default, this page will also show a list of all premium businesses, so your paying customers get seen front and center.
- Create specific landing pages for areas you want to highlight. Want to promote a restaurant guide? Have a landing page that only lists the premium restaurants in town. Or what about a page of service providers? An employment or real estate page? Do you already have these? Add the [bh-guide] shortcode to automatically add the premium businesses for that demographic into your page.
- Do you have an email newsletter? All the Events and Promotions that your premium businesses are creating can be automatically added to your newsletter via an RSS feed.
- Tell your businesses that they now have analytics in their dashboard (as do you in the publisher dashboard!) So, they can see how many people have seen their page, their events and promotions. Fairly soon, your readers will be able to connect directly to premium businesses, through your site. How will it look when you can show direct attribution of leads to a business?