Brownbook is now TOTALLY FREE

Important changes and improvements to Brownbook

Well, we’ve been in near radio-silence for almost four weeks now as we set about making some radical changes to Brownbook.  Two months ago several of our team were in the midst of reading Chris Anderson’s great new book “Free”, and we started to wonder about making Brownbook totally free – not free as in “free offer”, or “Free trial”, but FREE as in totally free, libre, gratis.

Now, many people are naturally wary of ‘free’, given that free normally means ‘free for a while’, or ‘free basic version’, or ‘free trial’, or some other variation of free-now-but-you’ll-pay-later.  But here’s the rub: Brownbook deals in bits and bytes not physical goods, we operate a lean business without many of the overheads of traditional directories or even many IYPs, and we make money in other ways.  Given that our cost of delivering Brownbook is pretty much a fixed cost and it’s low, and especially since our marginal cost of delivering our service to each extra business is so close to zero so as to be not worth measuring, why not just make it free.

So, that’s what we’ve done.

For ANY BUSINESS it’s now TOTALLY FREE to claim and verify your listing AND TOTALLY FREE to create a rich customizable business profile with virtually unlimited extra information, photos, videos, logos, widgets and more.

The other major addition is the ability to now create more links into your business profile, thereby improving its search engine ranking, by inviting other business owners you know to endorse your business.

So what’s an endorsement?

An endorsement in Brownbook is not the same as a review, it’s actually a mutual link created between two businesses that does two things:

  • it says “I trust this business, and they trust mine” giving viewers of your business page greater incentive to call your company ahead of your competitors
  • it creates inbound links to your business page that help search engines to index it AND raise its ranking and importance, helping you benefit from more organic search traffic

If you already have a website, use Brownbook to help draw in more traffic to it – our business pages are well optimized for search engines so you’ve got more chance of getting found in the major search engines and capturing that valuable organic search traffic.

If you don’t have a website, use Brownbook to create a rich landing page for any online advertising you do, and, just like those with web pages, capture some of those organic search results.

Here’s a quick digest of the major changes we just made:

  • FREE to claim and verify your listing – existing payers get to renew FREE (with all the available premium features) when their claim comes up for renewal
  • FREE to create a rich business profile – existing payers get ALL the new business profile features added to their business page instantly and for FREE
  • Faster, simpler claim process
  • Invite endorsements – a means to easily invite other business owners you know to endorse your business to create valuable cross-links to your business profile
  • Request endorsements – a means to request an endorsement from another listed business
  • Manage endorsements – the controls to allow you to see who’s accepted your invitations, to send reminders, and to respond (accept or decline) to incoming requests for endorsements
  • Visual improvements to business profile pages
  • % Complete unit – displays how complete your business profile is, from 10% to 100%, and gives you guidance as to how you can further enrich your business profile
  • Improved layout of your My Account page, giving better information about your claimed listings and greater control to do such things as: invite more endorsements, manage endorsements, renew claims, invite reviews
  • Improved search results page to give greater prominence to claimed & verified businesses, including downgrading the prominence of unclaimed businesses
  • Simplification of member kudos (the stars that appear after your name)
  • Removal of ‘favorites’ (a little-used feature, in the interests of simplicity)
  • Withdrawal of website creator (another little-used feature.  If you use this feature you’ll still have access to it until your current claim expires. We’ve emailed you to tell you how)
  • Withdrawal of the user earnings program (which unfortunately has no relevance now everything’s free. We’ll email and settle with all members that have accrued earnings within the next 2 weeks, stand by for an email if you have accrued user earnings)
  • Withdrawal of the affiliates program (like user earnings it now no longer has any relevance, we’ll settle with all affiliates in the next 2 weeks)
  • Removal of paid ads from all search results pages and business pages

What next?
Well, you could take a look at these three new pages that describe what it’s all about
http://www.brownbook.net/free_listing.html
http://www.brownbook.net/free_claim.html
http://www.brownbook.net/free_profile.html

If you’ve already paid to claim your business listing
Login to your account {http://www.brownbook.net/user/login/} and take a look at your business profile page and try out the new features.

If you’ve not yet claimed your listing
Now is the time to do so.  Claim it to verify the details and lock it down, and complete your business profile. It’s all free, free, free.

Further help
You can view the help pages here, where you’ll find out all about existing and new features
http://help.brownbook.net

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