Best of the Web 17th Birthday Promo

The Year Was 1994
Sheryl Crow assured us “All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun…”. Kurt Cobain of Nirvana had a good year on the charts, despite dying in April. Newt Gingrich and his Contract for America crew staged a coup in the US House of Representatives. I acquired outstanding tickets to the new Ballpark in Arlington, just in time for Major League Baseball to go on strike and end the season before I got to use them.

“What IS the internet?” ~ Bryant Gumbel, Today Show, 1994
And in the tech world… NCSA Mosaic introduced a more user friendly browser, making it easier for non-geeks to access the then fledgling Internet. From that effort sprung a new company named Netscape. And if you think the internet has always been here, take a look at this clip of the Today Show as Katie Couric attempts to answer Bryant Gumbel when he said “What IS the internet?”.

Best of the Web is Born
In April of that year an awards program was launched at the University at Buffalo to let those already on the web vote on which sites they considered “Best of the Web”. The awards were announced in May at the International W3C Conference in Geneva. The awards were to serve two purposes:

  • Promote the Web to new/potential users by showing its highlights
  • Help information providers see what they can do with HTML/HTTP

The awards ran until the late 1990′s, and later BOTW was purchased from the founders by the current owners and turned into a general directory, BOTW.org. The goals are still largely the same, we provide users improved access to the best sites on the net, but it has developed into a family of products.

Current offerings in addition to the BOTW Directory include the UK & Ireland Directory, BOTW Blog Directory, BOTW Local, BOTW Verticals Software Directory, the recently launched Senior Housing Directory, and finally our brand new Online Degree Directory.

Contests & Such… are you missing anything?
If you’re interested in the history you can view the original awards in our archive, but for keeping up with little things like promos, contests and the like, you really should keep an eye on BOTW via Twitter or Facebook. Those tend to have a few spur of the moment “gimmes” that don’t make it to the blog, so if you miss ‘em, don’t blame me, you’ve been alerted now. :)

BOTW Birthday Promo
Anyway, in honor of turning 17 Best of the Web is offering its biggest discount of the year: 25% off on ALL directory submissions. You’ll save $100 on submissions at the Lifetime rate (usually $399.95), and about $40 on the annually recurring rate (regularly $149.95). These savings are also available for category sponsors. All customers get a 30-day free trial for their first sponsorship, and the discount will knock off $12 on the monthly renewal rates (normally $49.95).

To obtain these savings, use this promo code:  BDAY25

This code can be used multiple times, but is only valid until April 30. Take advantage of this year’s biggest discount by submitting today.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print, hope you guys are having a great week. ~ Rob

Directories: Who Uses ‘em

We were having one of those conversations the other day. You know, the ones you have when various people in related parts of an industry are still online at weird hours cause they don’t have the good sense of an air traffic controller and just go to sleep when they’re tired.

One of the new guys chimed in with a comment that, considering we were in the Directories section of a webmaster forum was possibly meant as a dig, but at least it explained why he was doing marketing instead of motivational speaking.

“Seriously… Does anyone ever USE a directory anymore?”

For starters I do, but I’m in the directory field, so I’m not exactly the average user. Can’t speak for everyone, but I find for some purposes they’re easier than search engines. More targeted, less unrelated stuff to wade through. Just a matter of picking the best tool for the job.

For example, when I was trying to figure out where the nearest pizza delivery joint was the other night I *could* have just used a search engine, but instead I hopped on BOTW Local and typed in the name of the town and “pizza” and got a list in order of proximity.

Couldn’t I have just done so in a search engine? Absolutely. Of course I’d get a certain number of returns that involved people in that town with blogs that had the word “pizza” in it or something, but I’d have gotten there.

The thing is, the “there” I’d have gotten to was the search engine returning results of local directories for the most part. Whether he uses directories or not, the search engines definitely do.

Kinda like saying “No, I don’t use any dairy products, I get my milk at the grocery store”.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. :) – Rob

Selecting a Category When Submitting

Why Choose a Category?
While it isn’t an issue by any means, it is amazing how many submitters leave the choice of category entirely up to the editor. It just seems worth a shot to state a preference. In a directory this size there are generally several places one site might fit. This post will give you an idea how to offer the editor your personal preference should you desire.

So why not make it mandatory?
The simple answer is that we provide a service, and it just isn’t an issue to us. We’re happy to help, and making sure it goes to the right place is part of the editors job anyway. The point of this post is to help if YOU want to state a preference. We’re fine either way. The absence of a category selection will in no way affect the probability of site acceptance. Acceptance is determined by the content of the site.

Nor will submitting to a category we think isn’t suitable adversely affect acceptance. If the review editor determines it is more appropriately placed elsewhere, they will put it where it goes. That said, we do make an attempt to accommodate if there’s a judgment call to be made and you have stated a preference.

How DO we tell BOTW which category we want?
In order to automatically have it submitted to the category of your choice, go to the category where you think it goes and hit the “Submit Sites” button (in the upper right corner). Follow the prompts from there, and the system wiill tell us where you want the site.

But how do I decide which IS the right category?
As stated, in a directory this size there almost always is more than one place a site could reasonably be placed. Let’s use as an example, a Family Law attorney in Los Angeles. The method I utilize to seek placement is to simply open BOTW and implement a user side search. The techs recently enhanced it and it is easily the quickest way to find a good spot for a site. I’d type in “family attorney los angeles” (without quotes) and see what the results are. From there I narrow down by looking at the contents of the most logical categories that appear in the results.

Regional vs Topical
Like most general directories, our primary two “trees” are “Regional” and “Topical. Looking down the matches in the example above, you’ll notice choices that seem right on both sides. This will not be true for every site… for example a site for an online shopping service IS best placed in an appropriate category of Shopping & Services while a brick and mortar retail store is best placed in the Regional category for the city in which it resides.

Why? Because users across the world may use an online shopping site, but seldom go online to decide whether to drive to the store in Denver vs one in Miami. Regional is generally the best fit for a brick-and-mortar operation. [And don't forget to put those in BOTW Local too... the more hooks in the water, the more fish on the table.]

The lawyer example is intentionally selected because it IS an ambiguous call. Granted, nobody will typically try to decide between a family lawyer in Miami vs Denver, but that isn’t the way the choices will be set up because in this case there’s a Regionalized Topical category that’s tied to Regional through See-also links and @links. Whether something resides on the  Regional or Topical side is a non-issue if they are tied together properly.

See-also’s and @links?
If you look closely you will note an @ symbol on the end of the name of some of the subcategories you might choose. Though it will physically act like a subcategory, it is really just a navigation link to get you to the right place (ie – either the correct Topical or Regional subcategory). An @link tells the user “this is a natural subcategory” and takes them there even if it isn’t physicall below it on the directory tree, while a “see-also” link tells the user “if this topic is of interest, here’s a related place you should see”. They’re similar in use, but not exactly the same.

In both cases they are just structure that makes sure the user can find what they want. To those not in the directory business that may seem a little convoluted, but basically it is just a way of keeping structure navigable. The alternative would be to always have overlapping but totally separate subcategories, and it’d make it harder for users to find the material they seek.

Continuing with the family lawyer example:
You’ll notice you eventually end up making a decision between a regionalized Topical category…
Society: Law: Services: Lawyers_and_Firms: Family_Law: North_America: United_States: California:
or placing it in the Regional category strictly for Los Angeles legal sites…
Regional: United States: California: Cities: Los Angeles: Business and Economy: Legal Services

Cool, a choice. Which of those two is “better”?
Depends on who you ask. BOTH work. I’ve seen some people show a knee-jerk preference for Topical, but in the age of contextual search engines (and directories play a part in contextual search results) a listing in Regional is highly effective place to be.

Bottom line… in this case it IS a judgment call, so stating a preference will assist us in making the call.

Hope this helps, and happy submitting. :)

Half Off BOTW Local Premium Listing

BOTW Local Premium listings 50% off thru February 28Botw Local
BOTW Local is a map related business directory that helps people locate local vendors. As a service to both vendors and users we allow a free listing (called a “Jumspstart”). For an added fee you can get a Premium listing. Premium pages provide prominent placement and expanded business details like email and website links, coupons, special notes, etc.

Is a Physical Location Required?
The BOTW Local service is designed to help users find local vendors for products or services. It does provide a map to those operating out of a brick and mortar location. Still it is a simple fact that many legitimate vendors and service providers do not operate out of an office or storefront, so a P.O box IS accepted in lieu of an office location.

To view the site see: http://local.botw.org

To upgrade an existing listing in BOTW Local:

  1. Sign in to your existing BOTW Local Account
  2. Got to “Manage Listings” section
  3. Start activating the added features available to Premium listings
  4. When prompted, enter promo code to save 50%

Promo Code: YOUSAVE50

BOTW Local – Designed to Drive Traffic

A Botw Local Premium listing is a good tool to help you drive more people to your website and increase awareness for your business. For more information on the benefits of a Premium Business details page, visit http://local.botw.org/premium.

Sign up today and save 50% – you pay only $15.

Regards ~ The Best of the Web Team

BOTW Welcomes 2010 with 20% Off

Congrats! If you’re reading this…
You survived the first decade of the new century. We lived through the “Y2k scare” and strolled into a decade where the internet went from “cool novelty” to “economic lifeline”. Huge fortunes were made by some, and in a decade when “real” employers were saying goodbye to longterm employees… internet entrepreneurism became a major force.

New industries entirely online came of age. People that once went to the mall to get ready for Christmas began to go to “Google” and “Amazon”.

We learned a lot of new words… Adsense, SEO, PR, Digg, Facebook… and we learned new meanings for old words. “Twitter” went from a sound to an action. “Text” went from a noun to a verb. Spam was once somethiing you didn’t want on your plate, now it’s something you don’t want in your inbox, directory, or forum. Now if you talk about anticipating “caffeine”, you probably aren’t on your way to Starbucks.

The national media scoffed at “bloggers in pajamas”, and lost. [Now they're establishing their own blogs and playing catch up.] Where once having a website meant your company was “cutting edge”, now NOT having one means you just aren’t considered. For the most part these changes occurred over the course of the last decade.

Moving into 2010…
In a decade of change, Best of the Web has played its part. We went from an early awards program to a directory helping map the best sites on the net. We added a UK and Ireland Directory, a Local Directory, and other products.

Now we’d like to play our part helping folks get their website and their products in front of more people than ever. BOTW now has more than 20 million listings spread across the Web Directory, Blog Directory, UK Directory, and BOTW Local. We are happy to offer a promotion good through the end of January: SAVE 20% on All NEW BOTW Submissions and Sponsorship Advertising.

When prompted, enter the following Promo Code: NEWYR

Save 20% on new:

  • Directory Submissions – Discount the annual or the one-time review fee and get listed in the Internet’s Oldest Directory.
  • Blog Advertising – Discount on all new sponsorship ads in the Blog Directory.
  • Bundled Marketing Package – Get your US Business listed in BOTH the Web Directory and BOTW Local for a fraction of the cost. Save 20% on the yearly fee!

The code may be used multiple times for multiple products and services in January. The code will expire on January 31, 2010 so act now to get a jump on the new year.

Happy 2010 to all from the Best of the Web team!

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