Discover how we built the largest directory for minority owned businesses on Long Island.
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.
As an advertising and marketing company for businesses of all sizes, our team at Blue Surge Marketing Agency 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 virtual directory, we first approached the idea by 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 more than a typical site setup.
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.
217 guests RSVP for our planned website launch of the news version of ShadesOfLongIsland.com at Digital Ballpark in Plainview, NY.
Discussions center adding business listings to ShadesOfLongIsland.com
Executive decision is made to launch the directory as a standalone site, living on a subdomain.
Design and development includes prototype iterations of how site should function.
We successfully launch during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local business owners add their listings on a weekly basis.
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.
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.
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. We carried out this experiment by adding our own business as a sample listing in the directory to test this. After a few short weeks, a simple search in Google led to the guide appearing within our branded keyword’s top ten results. 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 shown the growth for Shades of Long Island.
Like having your own marketing team — but for a fraction of the price.
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