case study

Shades of Long Island Business Directory

Discover how we built the largest directory for minority owned businesses on Long Island.

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01. The Challenge

As the owner of a media outlet built for underrepresented groups on Long Island, Miya Jones knew the challenges of bringing a vital idea to the market. As her first independent venture, Shades of Long Island began to flourish, Miya wanted to expand her company to start bringing in revenue. Although her news site was growing, she wanted to add a directory feature that allowed local Black-owned and Hispanic owned business owners from Nassau and Suffolk County to be found easier. Adding an entirely new core functionality to her brand’s vision would be quite challenging. Following the success of her most recent project with our firm, Miya used our team again to bring this new site to life.

Enter Blue Surge Marketing Agency.

02. The Strategy

As an advertising and marketing company for businesses of all sizes, our team at Blue Surge knows the importance of visibility. If a potential client or customer is looking for goods or services in your industry, you had better be there. Otherwise, that potential sale goes to a competitor. Our idea for this directory was to make it a comprehensive, one-stop-shop where visitors could easily find businesses, along with the basic information necessary to make quick judgments about the individual company, such as reviews, photos, and hours of operation. Once we formulated the concept, we began executing the idea.

To build the actual directory, we first approached the idea by merely adding a directory function to the new ShadesofLongIsland.com website. However, after early-stage user testing, we pivoted from that approach and decided that the project would function best as a standalone. The functionality necessary to make the Shades directory a viable business model proved to more than a typical site set up.

To reduce the amount of time it would take our team to launch the site, we built the new directory on a subdomain of shadesoflongisland.com, which allowed us to use the same content management system as the ‘News’ version of the site. For our client, this made it easier to make simple changes on their own without constant intervention from us, which was the feedback we learned from previous client projects.

We frontloaded the directory with listings to encourage new signups and speed up the SEO process.

Late February

Website Launch & Networking Event of ‘News’ Site

217 guests RSVP for our planned website launch of the news version of ShadesOfLongIsland.com at Digital Ballpark in Plainview, NY.

Late February

Early March

Discussion on Creating a Directory Feature

Discussions center adding business listings to ShadesOfLongIsland.com

Early March

Mid March

Split of Websites Into 2 Separate Domains

Executive decision is made to launch the directory as a standalone site, living on a subdomain.

Mid March

March

Website Design of Directory

Design and development includes prototype iterations of how site should function.

March

April

Soft Launch of Directory

We successfully launch during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

April

Late April

500th Business Listing Added

Local business owners add their listings on a weekly basis.

Late April

The core component of the directory was the ability to search for listings, so we ensured that the feature was robust and present sitewide. By simply typing in a few characters, users would see suggested search terms, including individual business listings, categories, and available tags. This advanced search functionality would make finding listings much easier and also open the window to exploration to shops that may get overlooked.

We made it so that site visitors could search by category, location, and tags.

 

Monetizing the directory was the other core objective of this project for our client. We worked with Miya to create streamlined pricing packages. Each package provided tiered layers of value that allowed owners to select the right plan for them based on the number of features they wanted. To reduce the barrier to entry, we strategically added a free tier at $0, which would quickly allow any qualified owner to add their listing. We also added a feature that allowed users to ‘boost’ their listing to the top of the directory search results, similar to paid Google Ads, in exchange for a small fee.

Our experiment to boost the directory's SEO ranking worked in just a few short weeks.

While the technical site structure was sound for SEO purposes, to get the site ranking more quickly on Google, our team frontloaded the directory with hundreds of listings by scraping data from popular social networks. This action helped satisfy the on-page component of search engine optimization. To test this, we carried out this experiment by adding our own business as a sample listing in the directory. After a few short weeks, a simple search in Google led to the directory appearing within the top ten results for our branded keyword. The high placement of the Business.ShadesofLongIsland.com listing signaled to us our hypothesis was indeed correct. The other positive of preloading the directory with listings was that it gave business owners an incentive to claim their listing and modify them accordingly, which they could only do after creating a user account.

The actions of our website design team at Blue Surge Marketing Agency led to strategies that have led the growth for Shades of Long Island.

03. The Results

  • 500+ listings added within two months
  • 4 price tiers
  • Advanced search functionality
  • Fast page speed loading time

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