Having worked tirelessly for the past two years, Best of the Web (BOTW) announced the launch of BOTW Local Beta on June 18th. While still considered a Beta release, BOTW Local shows us exactly what a quality local search experience is all about.
Since 1994 BOTW has provided its users with a clean directory of web sites to browse and search through. While the original BOTW directory still features comprehensive regional listings, BOTW Local provides listing opportunities for all brick and mortar businesses – including those without websites.
The Logical Extension of Local Search
A web directory with regional categorization is great. A socially driven local search experience just happens to be much better. Using Google Maps and more than 16 million listings, BOTW Local accomplishes what few others have been able to. They’ve created a robust, free local listing service that will rival other local search platforms and could render some antiquated Internet Yellow Pages useless.
I’ve been impressed with the socially driven components of business reviews. Yahoo! is really the only other local search source out there allowing social interaction on a per-business basis. The interface though with BOTW (in my opinion) seems much cleaner and easier to navigate. It really is
“Jump Start” Your Listings
To get started with Best of the Web Local, you’ll want to head on over to the Jump Start area. Jump Start allows business owners and managers to create free profiles for their businesses. These profiles increase online visibility, especially for locations that do not have dedicated web sites.
While Jump Start is free for all users, you can also opt to upgrade to a premium listing.
That doesn’t mean the free version is weak though… In fact, BOTW Local’s free listings allow you to publish phone numbers, hours of operation and will still allow for users to provide ratings on your establishment.
As you’d expect, upgraded listings allow for more flexibility. Businesses who opt for these listings for $9.95 will receive VIP placement in the local results along with ability to list out products & services, website addresses, email and additional phone numbers as well as any coupons or special promotions you may have going on.
For those looking for even more exposure, Sponsored Category Listing services is also available starting at $15.95 per month.
Notes for Search Marketers
Many search marketers will be looking to purchase listings for the sake of increasing some relevant link popularity efforts or perhaps to saturate branded or local search results on other engines. It’s worth noting Greg Hartnett’s notes on the size of the site and just how much it’s being crawled / indexed:
The site is huge – like 16.5 million pages. So in an effort to not scare the hell out of the spiders we’re doing a somewhat slow roll out. Most of the site still contains “no-spider” tags. Thus far, we have only introduced the spiders to the following markets: Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Chicago and Austin. As we feel comfortable with the indexing and crawl rate of each market introduced, we introduce more. So far so good with tens of thousands of pages indexed, and many many pages ranking very well. More cities coming soon.
If you’re interested in learning more about BOTW Local Beta, please refer to these additional resources:
BOTW Blog: BOTW Local Goes Beta
Greg Hartnett’s Blog: Launching BOTW Local
Adam Sussman: BOTW Local Goes Beta