The Evolution of Classified Business Directories Online
The Business Directory has been a mainstay of society since the first Telephone Directory in the nineteenth century. The principle behind the directory remains the same; to provide the reader with information so they can get in touch with a company or individual. Most modern directories have a paid inclusion option, whilst many online directories offer free listings and free membership.
Sales of classified advertisements generate a large percentage of revenues for many national and local radio stations, newspapers and other media. Whilst traditional media is reportedly facing numerous challenges financially, classified ad services including Gumtree are picking up some of this business online.
Web 2.0 and Business Directories
Online directories are increasingly multimedia and socially-engaging. Directories online initially focused on creating lists of Website addresses and descriptions. If you happen to visit Pretoria Directory, then you may get exact idea of web 2.0 and business directories. The aim of the Open Directory Project has been to “…build the largest Human-edited directory of the web”. This free directory relies on volunteer editors accepting or declining submissions to a large number of categories worldwide.
Web 2.0 built on the idea of a collaborative platform with many sites adding social or sharing services for their content. Whilst sites such as Review Centre aren’t specifically Business Directories they do carry enough information and contact details for companies to be classed as such. By enabling consumers to review products, performance and service aspects of any business these websites become a kind of Social Business Directory. The concept of a Social Business Directory is also a close definition of Brownbook.net, “The Free Directory that anyone can edit”. These directories are similar to Wikis in that they rely on user submissions and user-generated content to improve the experience and knowledge one can gain about a certain business.
Websites including Qype, Hotfrog and Yelp provide user reviews and opinions which can help companies with word-of-mouth marketing or inform them of customer service issues. Price Comparison sites including Trip Advisor offer classified listings alongside consumer reviews, allowing businesses to promote their services at desirable demographics.
Enabling rich media aspects including video, maps and location images, Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts, RSS feeds and blogs on company profiles lets businesses become involved in a conversation with their customers and prospects with the aim of leading to a better overall consumer experience.
The future of business directories
As business directories continue to implement new features and integrate services with other websites it’s important for companies to remember who their customers are and to target them specifically.
Niche business directories offer relevant traffic on a particular context or business category and may be the most fruitful in terms of Return on Investment.
New directories including Best Rated Businesses and 0133 provide a particular service; the former only accepts positive star ratings of companies, the latter gives consumers in New Zealand their first Free to call directory service.