Richer Business Profile Pages get more traffic and clicks [stats]

We did a little analysis this week, intended for some internal purposes but the results are so interesting that I thought I’d share them with you.

Business Pages with more content get more views and clicks – sounds obvious and we’ve been saying that for some time, but how about some real hard numbers to back that up.

It’s long been accepted that more rich content = better SEO (all other things being equal), and that’s good news for small businesses and local businesses trying to get found online.  But how much of a difference does more content make?

Well here you go, here is the actual answer within the Brownbook world (based on 30 days activity and a sample of 900 business listings that saw activity in that period):

The numbers:




What does %complete mean?
This is a measure by which we deem a Business Profile Page to be completed, and you can see how it gets to 100% in this snippet (You’ll find this near the top right of your Business Profile Page, you’ll need to be signed in when looking at your claimed business page to see this):


A few quick conclusions:

  • Getting your Business Profile Page more complete results in more views and clicks
  • The difference in views between 30% and 90% is about 10x (and 2x when you go from 80% to 90%)
  • We’re getting an astonishing click through ratio of close to 20% in most cases and often higher
  • There seems to be an odd result where businesses at 90% get on average more clicks than those on 100% (I wonder why that is, perhaps because more info presented removes some of the need for the viewer to click through to the business’s website?)
  • (I noticed another anomaly in clicks at 50% complete – I  will see if more analysis can reveal what’s happening here)

Brownbook Celebrates its First Birthday and a Year of Sustained Growth

Free free global business directory that anyone can edit now lists 28 million businesses worldwide

United Kingdom:, the free global business directory that anyone can edit, is celebrating its first year in business; a year of sustained growth. Today, the site continues to thrive, with thousands of businesses being added, worldwide, every week. The international distribution of listed businesses can be seen here:

Brownbook also regularly enjoys positive reviews about the site; these left, for example, on Brownbook’s own listing page:

“Love it… Love it… Love it. This is SEO magic for the uninitiated. Simple, quick and powerful. Love it! Have recommended BrownBook to ALL my friends! Actor Expo Team,, May 25, 2009 17.23”

“I had a wonderful review of my business appear on my [Brownbook listing] a few days after signing up for your service. It was an unsolicited endorsement from a business associate. Right on! May 22, 2009 11.06”

Marc Lyne, co-founder: “We are currently listing 28 million businesses from all around the world. One of the reasons for Brownbook’s success, I would say, is that we never stop providing innovative new features to businesses, helping them to get found online. This keeps the site fresh and on its toes. Here are 2 of our latest enhancements, for example:

1. Stats counters and stat graph on every businesses page.

2. Bidget (Business Widget) for reviews. Now anyone can add their reviews that appear on Brownbook to any other website, blog or forum. See an example here: the Brownbook page for Onedrywash:, and their Brownbook reviews which they have placed on their own blog:

Latest improvements in Brownbook land

Latest updates in Brownbook, launched last week in Version 15 include:

  • Provision of the mechanism to allow large publishers to (pretty much) instantly implement their own web2.0 classified business directory, or to augment their existing directory with Brownbook’s (co-branded) enhanced customizable business pages.  We’re rolling this out with one UK publisher right now, enhancing an existing ‘display’ type product with pages that accept video, images, widgets, and customizable layouts, and giving them a significant new revenue stream on their existing classified website.
  • We’ve also been rebuilding the main site map and mobile sitemap as part of continued SEO work that helps search engines drive deep to our business’s listing pages – good news for any business that’s listed in Brownbook
  • Removed NOFOLLOW on links to businesses websites, further enhancing the SEO benefits of having your business listed in Brownbook (thanks to a member for that suggestion – don’t know why we didn’t do it sooner)
  • Added a function that uses the Twitter API to tweet when new updates, reviews and additions get made; it tweets to the twitter account here:
  • We’ve opened up our data even more, and now allow other sites to re-use Brownbook reviews, by adding support for hReviews (Microformats –  Some of you may know we’ve supported the other microformats for about 6 months, this was one we only just got round to.
  • New fields added in Business Pages for your BLOG and TWITTER name.  This means you can now add these to your listing helping you to engage closely with new customers
  • OH, and I almost forgot, NEW SERVERS :).  Over the last 2 months or so we’ve started to see slower response times, obviously we’re continually looking for ways to optimise code, but as they say in the motor tuning trade “there’s no substitute for cubic inches”, or in our case Gigahertz and Megabytes.  We’re now up around 650,000 monthly visitors so it’s starting to get serious, so we just slotted in another webserver and a load balancer up front.

We’re about half way into our development Sprint 16, so expect news next week of more improvements.

Take care
Dave Ingram

30 day FREE trial – video

Lets see how you as a business owner can benefit from the new 30 day FREE trial on all the Brownbook advanced features.

The value add that the video does not show is how your business benefits from better SEO, online marketing ie. better ‘bread crumbing’ (the more places that people can find your business the better). With the ultimate benefit being that you generate more business.


Small business marketing on a shoestring (without even a shoestring!)

I was alerted via one of my Twitter colleagues @BeckyMcCray to this great blog post about marketing online on low or no budget – read it and pass it on Original author’s Twitter page is here (Mark Hayward) – got to be worth following.

My colleague Marc talks about “dropping breadcrumbs” around the Internet that lead people (prospects, customers) to your business.  Its all about a ‘getting everywhere’ and using innovative tools that your competitors haven’t yet got in with.  Sure, MOST ‘ordinary’ (read: non-tech) people don’t know about Twitter, WordPress etc, but there are enough people that do for you to clean up.

New Brownbook stuff for Christmas :)

We released sprint 12 of Brownbook yesterday, just in time for us to relax a little for Christmas.  You may already know we use an Agile/Scrum development process which sees us breaking all our development down into 2 week ‘sprints’.  Each sprint is followed by two day’s testing, then we make it live.  Here’s a quick roundup of some of the main front-end changes in the last two sprints:

Sprint 11
–    The number of tags shown on search results pages is now restricted.  This is because some business owners are using very large numbers of tags, and whilst they are all relevant they were making the results pages hard to read.  So, on the results page, you now get a summary of the tags, with full tags shown when you click to the business details page.
–    Press links in home page footer.  We’re starting to build up quite a collection of write-ups and reviews from people like BBC, Wikinomics, and more.  So we figured by putting them on the home page new people will get a better idea of what we’re about.
–    “more…” links on home page.  On the home page you see up to 5 of the last businesses added and edited.  The new “More…” link lets you click through to see older entries.  This is useful for helping newly added and newly updated businesses get indexed by the major search engines.
–    Bugs – fixed a few bugs including the text editor in ‘customize my page’ in Safari that was not saving changes.
–    Return to previous page upon login.  Now, when you login, you are returned to the previous [page you were on, instead of getting directed straight to your ‘my account’ page.
–    Twitter this.  A new link in the tools bar on a business details page lets registered Twitter users tweet the business details with a link to the page.
–    Hall of fame.  A link in the home page footer links to show the most active users in terms of contributions and earnings (how much they’ve earned for their contributions)
–    Community forum.  A new community forum where registered members can discuss any topic relevant to Brownbook and promoting local businesses.  Would be great to see some tips posted in the sections about customizing your page and creating your website.
–    Shorten password.  We had some request to change the password minimum length from 8 characters to 6.  Done.
–    Various changes to Bidgets to provide better presentation of content in narrower Bidgets on external websites.
–    Fixed some issues with videos playing in IE7.
–    Fixed some erroneous emails.  Welcome email going out to wrong users (embarrassing one, that).

Sprint 12
–    New banners on results pages and business details pages to promote the benefits of Brownbook for business users and consumer users.  We’ve tried to keep them out of the main page area and hope they don’t interfere with the main page info.  Feedback most welcome.
–    Encode email addresses.  At the suggestion of one user we’ve now encoded all email addresses that are displayed on Brownbook pages to prevent unscrupulous people from scraping email addresses and using them to target spam. (Thanks Don at HTML Fixit for this suggestion).
–    Use your own domain name on Brownbook ‘create my website’ feature.  A link to a help page which explains how to use your own domain name with the website you created in Brownbook.
–    File size and format information on video and photo uploads in ‘create my website’ and on video units and image units.
–    New look for your public profile page.
–    Moved the ‘tools’ on business details page from out of the main page area to a horizontal space at the top of the page.  This is to allow the main page area to ‘belong’ entirely to the business without distractions.  Works especially well when the business owner has customized their page.  Take a look at this example.  This also required the movement of the country selection flags, which you can now see in the brown strip of the page header on all pages.
–    Slight re-jigging of the business details page to remove superfluous headings and some wasteful white space.
–    New ‘Brownbook for businesses’ and ‘Brownbook for everyone’ videos courtesy of the lovely Lisa P.  Also new texts on each of the pages that follow the videos to describe new features (chiefly ‘customise my page’ and ‘create my website’ for business owners, and ‘user earnings program’ for everyone else).
–    Some ongoing new SEO work to make indexing by the big boys even better. Ie get found even more easily and quickly in the search engines when you add your business to Brownbook.
–    Fixed some non-English character (accents etc) support problems in tags.

That’s about it (what, you mean you wanted MORE??).

Right, its Christmas eve now, and I am definately up for a glass of sherry about now.  We’re into Sprint 13 as of today which is a quick one over the festive period, then back to formal 2 week sprints at the start of January with some great new stuff for you so keep watching.

Happy Christmas and New Year

Dave and Marc

PS: remember you can now follow us on Twitter (@daveingram, and @marc_lyne)

The future

An interesting quote that i received by email today:

“The successful companies in the local space will have organic traffic, unique distribution, self-service products, direct access to merchant budgets and low-cost burn rates, she said. Meanwhile, companies that overly rely on search engine marketing, have high sales costs and churn rates, and require major rounds of funding will struggle.”

I’ve omitted the source to protect the innocent 😉

Making the internet work for your small business

I was the recipient of an interesting direct marketing email this week, and it struck such a chord with me that I thought I’d share it with you here.  Some very interesting stats that really drive home the importance of being online and findable for every small business.

(you may want to check this article in The Telegraph this week in the same vein)

(PS: I’ve removed the name of the company to protect the innocent :))


With ******** Internet Solutions
2.7 Billion Searches – Every Month!*
What’s your share of the search?

With all these searches on the internet why isn’t your business getting it’s fair share? 79%** of searches are performed on Google, with the rest trailing far behind – just 8% on Yahoo, 5% on Ask, 4% for MSN and a mere 2% for all the other search services and directories on the Internet. Does the website of the telephone directory you pay to advertise in feature in this list?

Over half – 54%*** to be precise – of the UK population use the internet regularly, and if YOUR business is not on the Internet – or not highly ranked on the number one search engine – then potential customers don’t know you exist.

The numbers speak for themselves – what’s YOUR percentage of the 2.7 BILLION searches?

People are looking for your product or service online – call ******** today and find out how we can increase your share of the search to improve your business performance!

  • Can your business afford not to take advantage of the web?
  • Are you one of the many businesses that still don’t have a website?
  • Are you still spending hundreds – or even thousands – on paper advertising?
  • With £70bn** of business today conducted on the web – isn’t it time you asked why?

* comScore
** Hitwise, an Experian Company
*** UK Office of national statistics
DI>  I liked the email, and very useful stats too. Of course, you could take the DIY approach and add your business to with relevant tags.  No need to talk to us, no need to fend off any sales person either.  Our SEO ensures you get found on all the major  search engines helping you win new business. Simple as that.

Thanks again…

Safarista Web DesignIt always makes my day when someone takes the time to write and tell us how has helped their business.  I had a really pleasant email from KK in Lincoln, UK, here’s the take-out:

I updated my listing to my new company Your Constant Gardener which is my gardening business and today we got a phone call from a new client thanks to that! So, that is great for us, and now I’ve also added my other company Safarista to the Brownbook too!

Thanks KK.  All the best, D.

PS: if you’re looking for a Gardener in or near Lincoln UK, or a Web Designer in Lincoln, UK, check out KK’s business listings here, and make a call:

Your Constant Gardener

Safarista Web Design