A major update and refresh, on its way

I’ve just been reviewing the new designs for the Brownbook website, and I’m getting excited. But let me put aside the excitement for a moment, and explain some of the rationale for the changes that are coming.

Way back, when we started Brownbook, we had a simple goal: to bring the concept of crowd-sourced production to a stale industry – that occupied by folks like Yellow Pages, SuperPages, Yell, and others.  Our view was, 7 years ago, that we could create a crowd-sourced local business directory, and, we did it – with bells on.

But, in fact, we did much more than that!

Brownbook now stands at more than 35 million business listings worldwide, it has more than 1.1 million registered users, some 30,000 of whom use the site to actually add and update listings every single month.  Of that 35 million listings, more than 2 million are organically added and updated (that’s about as big as the UK yellow pages, but created by the crowd and fractional cost and with infinitely more efficiency).

What Brownbook has become is the worlds largest Global Business Listing Database, and its still growing fast.

So, time for a refresh and rethink: In the next few weeks we’ll be migrating the platform from its current hosting provider to AWS (Amazon Web Services) to greatly improve performance. That’s performance of the web user interface (which presently is diabolical) but, perhaps more importantly, performance of the Publisher API.  We’ll also be updating the UI to be cleaner, simpler, and generally a bit more elegant – that 7-year old design is certainly showing its age.

We’ve also found some important changes in the way that businesses, and particularly their agencies, use Brownbook.  Small businesses can still add their business listings, claim and verify them, and enrich them with additional text, images, videos, and social links through the website. And that helps them get found on the top search engines through Brownbook’s great SEO. But increasingly we’ve had requests from SEO companies, and local search optimization, listings, and location management agencies to provide an API for adding listings in volume.  In response to that we’ve been road-testing the Brownbook Publisher API for a few months, and its just about to hit prime time.  The Publisher API lets large businesses, publishers, SEOs, agencies, and local search teams add and manage listing in Brownbook with ease, no manual keying and no human error. Its fast, easy to use, and you can be integrated and live within a matter of days – more on this later.

So, watch out for a new look, faster platform, and public API coming soon. If your a publisher and interested in the Publisher API, drop us a line via the Contact Us page on the Brownbook.net site. Or just click here.

Webmasters – please tell me what you think…

(… and I will credit you with a link back in the resultant blog post!) – see my contact details at the end of this post

An open invitation to webmasters and owners of the following types of websites:

  • local/regional community website
  • regional/local newspaper or news website
  • vertical/market-specific/special-interest community website

Dear Sir or Madam

I’m researching a future blog post about the way business listings or directories are used (or not used) in three distinct types of websites (see above) and I’m interested to hear your opinions in relation to your own experience. I’ll be very pleased to credit you with a link to your website if you wish (though if you would prefer I did not please just let me know) – in any case, so that I’m not revealing your secrets I won’t be relating specific feedback with specific websites, only abstracting general observations or common opinions).

Please allow me to outline some of the questions that’re on my mind, how do you feel about shooting me back some quick thoughts on them?

IF YOU DO have searchable business listings on your website…

  • How do you make money from your business listings/directory (if at all)? And if you don’t would you like/plan to?
  • Approximately what did it cost (and how long did it take) to implement your business directory? And did you build it yourselves or bring in a ready-made solution?
  • What would you like it to do that it currently does not? And what would you like it to do better?
  • How important is the business listing/directory feature in the context of your whole site?
  • How is your business directory helping you get found in search engine (eg Google) results?
  • How are businesses added and updated? By you, or by the business owners themselves?
  • What other important things should I know?

IF YOU DO NOT have a searchable business directory on your website…

  • What are your thoughts on adding one? Would that be a feature and/or revenue opportunity you would consider?
  • If yes, what’s preventing you from doing it today?
  • When people search Google for businesses that might be relevant to your market or area, how do you get found in Google’s search results today?
  • What have I missed?

AND, about your business

  • What’s your annual website development budget (no need to be specific, just a rough range will help me out)?
  • How many people work in developing your website? What about in the company as a whole (again, just an indicative range will be useful)
  • Anything else I should know?

There are way more things I’d love to ask, but I must strike a balance between my desire to learn more and your willingness to spend time on this. Any input you can provide is very much appreciated, and of course there is my offer of a credit and link if you would like that.

Is there anything else I can do for you? If so please just ask. I can be reached in any of the following ways:

  • email reply: dave[at]brownbook.net
  • skype: “izidave”
  • cell: +1 650 646 8348 (San Francisco Bay Area, PST)

Many thanks for taking the time to read this (and hopefully respond too).


Yours sincerely

Dave Ingram – CEO, Brownbook.net

    News from the Brownbook

    As im sure most of you are aware Brownbook has been busy launching its new customization features and the DIY website creator.  We also want you to share your Brownbook success stories with us. Plus we chat about advertising during a recession.   See the full newsletter here