When Best of the Web Local launched in August, I thought it was yet another wakeup call to Yellow Pages companies (both print and IYPs) that their business was under attack. There are already thousands of IYP type sites out there, but when an established domain like BOTW.org launches one and combines that with the relationship it already has with small businesses, they can start to take both traffic and advertiser share away from the incumbents, even the start-up incumbents.
I thought it was time to check in with Greg Hartnett, President of BOTW, to see how they were faring. The short answer: pretty well. Here are the details:
LSG: Greg which local search sites do you think are doing a good job?
GH: I think Yahoo Local has the best platform but their organization has significant challenges and I think that has gotten in the way of them being able to innovate on it over the past few years. And you can’t count Google out. Google maps is pretty awesome, particularly the mash-ups.
LSG: Google maps is indeed the best way to find a plumber closest to the scene of a homicide. How did you launch BOTW Local?
GH: We licensed Localeze and mashed their data up with a number of other data sets we had. Then we noindexed the whole site except for NYC. We let Google index our NYC data first to make sure we didn’t have any problems with it and then we slowly opened up the rest of country market by market. It took about 2-3 days for Google to index all of our NYC data. It took about eight weeks to get the top 30 markets completely indexed. We have now opened up almost 100% of the site to the search engines.
LSG: How is the site different from BOTW.org?
GH: Well we do link the two where it is relevant such as from a NYC page on BOTW.org to a NYC page on BOTW Local. There are a lot of similarities, but while people think of BOTW.org as a huge site, we still only have about 113,000 pages in Google’s index. BOTW Local has 16.7 million business listings so as you can imagine it is a whole other beast.
LSG: How much traffic is BOTW Local getting from search at the moment?
GH: About 35K-40K uniques/day and we expect that to grow dramatically over the next year as we improve the site and of course the SEO.
LSG: How many businesses have claimed their profile so far?
GH: About 14,000, of which a good number have signed up for the premium service at $9.95/mnth. The premium service allows you to add more data to your listing.
LSG: What’s coming next?
GH: Pretty soon you’ll be able to add photos to your listing and we’re making a lot of improvements to the business’ dashboard. We’ll be adding social features like reviews, etc in 2009. We throw a lot of charity fundraisers so we are thinking that this might be a good way to get users involved in writing reviews, inviting friends, etc. So we’ll look into that. We also just launched a UK version of BOTW.
LSG: Any advice for my readers who are thinking of getting into the IYP space (you know who you are)?
GH: When we started BOTW we had another business that was generating a lot of cash so it was easy to support BOTW as it was getting off the ground. My advice is to have another way of making money so you can afford to focus on quality first.
LSG: Thanks Greg. For those of you who are looking to promote their biz on BOTW Local, you can add/edit your business here. Oh and one more question: Physical Graffitti or Led Zeppelin 1/2?
GH: That is a tough, tough call. Physical Graffiti is a more mature Zeppelin, with some truly incredible tracks. A double album covering the spectrum of LZ style. 1/2 though – what a dynamic couple of albums. Not only do they contain a handful of my all-time favorite tracks, but they bring me back to my school days and my introduction to rock ‘n roll. Though I truly did have to sit here and think about it, I’d have to go with 1/2.