Brownbook S22 now live – latest updates


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Brownbook S22 went live yesterday with a number of front-end and back-end improvements and new features.  Here’s the complete run-down:


– Removed IP detection – Last year we introduced a little technology to try to detect from which country you were visiting us (based on your IP address) with the aim to direct you to the correct country home page.  With 240 countries covered that’s quite a job.  Recently we figured we should be a bit more ‘natural’ so we took that out.  This means new users will always hit the ‘global’ home page, and can select their country of choice from that point.  We use a cookie to try to ‘remember’ your country choice for the next time you visit, and you can also change country at any time from the selection in the header (top right of the page)

– Set limit on Tags to 500 characters – We’ve noticed a few Business Profiles Pages getting bloated with sometimes several hundred tags.  I understand why you’d think to do it, but it doesn’t help get your page found, in fact it has the opposite effect.  Keyword stuffing, as the technique has become known (, is a surefire way to negatively impact your page’s standing in search engine indexes (and at worst get delisted) plus it affects all other pages on the same website by association.  Therefore we’ve henceforth restricted how many tags you can include by capping both Location Tags and Business Tags at 500 characters a piece.  This will mean you’ve gotta get selective about your keywords, which will help you get found more and keep you ranking highly.

– Removed link ‘sculpting’ – We also introduced some link sculpting last year in order to assist search bots in finding the highest value pages – your Business Profile Pages – more quickly, but recently that seems to be having less and less effect.  Our best guess is that spiders have got smarter and no longer need us to do this, and we have a suspicion they actually don’t like it.  So, once again, its a return to a bit more ‘natural’ behaviour – we now just let the searchbots just do their thing.

– Fixed occasional presentation/layout errors on Business Profile Pages – We’d found a few people had customized their business profile pages with additional text like a business description, menus, opening times, etc.  Thats great.  Problem was sometimes when that text was copy/pasted from another source (eg a web page or MS Word) a bunch of hidden formatting code also got copied, and that was screwing up the Business Page.  It’s always best practice when pasting text into web-based systems to do it via something like Notepad to avoid this (paste it to Notepad first, then select all in notepad and Copy it from there to Paste into the web page), but as a failsafe we’ve improved the way we hanbdle text that is Pasted in, hopefully now stripping out any hidden formatting.  Once you’ve pasted your text into the page (via a Text Unit) you can use the formatting controls in the Text Unit to add bold, highlights, undeline, font sizes, etc).

– Removal of HTML Unit for new members – Another more serious presentation problem was being caused by incorrect or incomplete HTML widgets being pasted into HTML Units.  In some cases this broke the Business Profile Page so badly that you couldn’t even delete the faulty HTML Unit and start again. So, we have a two-step solution to this one: first (in this release) we’ve removed the ability to add new HTML Units (existing units will still remain, but you wont be able to edit them, only remove them); second (in the next release, ETA 3 weeks) we’ll re-introduce the feature in a slightly modified form, allowing you to add a number of widgets without messing around with any HTML code.  Stay with us for the update once that is live.

– Improved links on – Recentlty we’ve been using Brownbook more on our mobile devices (, yet a problem existed whereby if you clicked a link in an email viewed on a mobile device the link always hit the mobile home page (not the intended page).  To fix this we’ve extended the range of mobile devices that get the full website by default, allowing users of smart(er) phones to better user the system.  New platforms that see www. (instead of m.) by default are: Android, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile.

– QR codes on every Business Profile Page – Do you know about QR codes?  (  They’re little 2D barcodes that can be scanned – by many new smartphones equipped with cameras – that can contain large amounts of data, for example website addressses, contact details, or company name and address.  To see an example just see any business page on (eg this one).  You’ll notice a little dot-matrix square beside the basic business details, and you can click it to get a larger version – that is the QR code containing that business’s name, address and contact. Anyone with a suitable handheld/mobile device can simply scan it to get the details.  You can use this code on any other website, or even in print.  We generate the QR code for each business, and you can grab it for use elsewhere; just click the small QR Code to get a larger view, right click on the resultant image and choose ‘save as…’, you’ll be saving the QR code as a graphic that you can reuse anywhere else, for free. Give it a try.  You can find more info on QR codes from that Wikipedia article mentioned above, here it is again (

That’s it for now…