REW Business Directory Module

Our real estate clients stand to benefit from this product in the following ways:

  • Business listings provide relevant, user-contributed content for your site
  • You can leverage your promotion of these businesses, to get links, monies or referrals in return
  • The business directory can be used as a high-end "concierge" service, placing a professionally-formatted and easy-to-update list of businesses on your site

How does it work?

The business directory is set up as a new section of your website (/directory), organized into two levels* of categories. Businesses and organizations can submit content-rich listings with logos and images, and of course lengthy text descriptions. As the admin, you will log in to your backend and manage the categories, approve or edit listings, see all of the submitters' contact info, and more.

* The directory software actually supports a third level of categories (so you could have Food Related > Restaurants > Mexican) but this should only be used in cases where the directory will have several thousand listings or more. You would need to get some additional custom work on the skin, if you wanted to use the third level.

Best Features

1) The directory comes with our stock category structure (we created 9 main categories and about 75 secondary categories). You'd be surprised how much time this will save you, even if you decide to make some changes to the categories. Note that our pre-set categories also include "related-to" relationships with certain other categories. These are like another kind of breadcrumb set, situated below the relevant information on the category pages.

2) As the admin, you can set links in the listings to be "no-follow". This is on a "per-listing" basis! So if you know that a business is linking (back) to your site already and you want to avoid appearing (to Google) like you have a reciprocal link relationship with the business, you can no-follow your link to them. You may need to explain this issue to the business owner, if you think they were on a misguided quest for a "link exchange". Note that as admin, you can also specify whether any listing's "website" field shows an active (hypertext) link, or just a textual web address.

3) The directory was built with search-engine-friendliness in mind. We've no-followed extraneous links in the architecture, created two different versions of a dynamic sitemap (you choose which is used), and ensured that no directory page is too deep to be properly indexed. We also had to do some backflips to make sure that the ability for a listing to appear in multiple categories, didn't produce duplicate content pages.

4) There is a "feature" function, for giving certain listings better exposure. Show your favourite restaurants or home builders that you really care. (Or use this for clout as you build business relationships. Or charge for featured listings.)

5) Each listing has room for a small logo/headshot (shows in results pages and with contact info in details pages), and also up to three larger images to appear in the details pages. There is also a map which shows the location of the business, based on its address.

6) Fields left blank in the listing submission process simply won't show on the frontend. For example, if nothing is entered in the "Fax" field, then "Fax:" won't show at all on the listing page. This ensures that each listing looks professional and complete.
Note: If the address field is left blank, no map will show. However, the admin can manually enter the latitude/longitude, which will force the map to show, with a marker showing the location on the map.

7) We worked hard to make sure that the image uploading works well in every kind of situation. Tall images still fit in the thumbnail logo area, for example.

8) The admin has a WYSIWYG editor available when approving/editing each listing, so that large paragraphs can be split up, for example, to look better. The admin can also remove images which didn't transfer well.

9) The admin has complete control over the meta titles on the main directory page and on each listing's page. There is also limited control over category pages' meta titles ("[Category Name] | [(editable) Directory Name]").

10) Listings can reside in multiple categories.

11) There are snippets in a few places within the directory, allowing you to edit the content (even to add images) using your REW CMS. (Details below)

12) The directory includes a search bar, and the search behaviour is pretty robust. For example, it will find "Mario's" if a user searches for "marios".

13) You can pull lists of directory listings (by category or keyword(s)) onto your site's other CMS pages, using "directory snippets".

How-to Information:

The directory's backend functionality is mostly straightforward, and we've included tooltips wherever possible. However, you will find some additional useful info below.

Directory structure:

There are 3 levels of category: Primary, secondary, and tertiary. If you anticipate that your directory will not get very extensive, you may wish to use only two levels of categories. Then if the directory begins to get more filled-out, you can add tertiary categories as necessary. This would work like so:

  • You notice that there are 80 listings in your "restaurants" category (which is a secondary category)
  • You create sub-categories (third level) of the restaurants section: Mexican, Italian, Fast Food, etc.
  • Then you would move the listings into their respective tertiary categories

We've created a stock category structure that comes with your business directory. It includes "related-to" relationships between the categories.

When a primary category is being viewed, ALL listings belonging within that category will show -- even the ones assigned to the sub-categories of that main category. So for example, imagine there is a primary category named "Restaurants" and it includes the sub-categories "Mexican" and "Italian". Imagine that the "Mexican" category includes a listing called "Juan's Tacos" and the "Italian" category includes a listing called "Luigi's Pizzas". When a user is viewing the "Restaurants" category, they will see Juan's and Luigi's listings below. Naturally, if they click on the "Mexican" sub-category, they will only see Juan's listing.

Submitting/creating a listing:

-"Required" Fields for Each Listing:

  • Business Name
  • Address OR phone number OR website
  • City
  • Category(ies)
    (Under contact information:)
  • Name
  • Email or phone

-When submitting a listing, the user can specify multiple categories (and the admin can edit this list when they "approve" the listing to show in the directory).

-Canadian vs. American versions: "Postal code" (vs. zip code) and "province" (vs. state) will appear for Canadian sites. If the wrong standard is showing, please contact our support department at support@realestatewebmasters.com.

-If the submitter does not specify an address, the latitude/longitude does not auto-populate and the map does not show. If the address submitted is a P.O. Box address (for mailing info), you can override that address by entering latitude/longitude coordinates - this way, the map will show the lat/lon location instead of the office where the P.O. Box is housed. (Here is a tool for getting coordinates: http://www.getlatlon.com/)

Photos in Listings:

We recommend that you crop images to the desired dimensions before uploading; however, we did build the software to handle most situations where an image is not cropped in advance. Note that .png files are more appropriate for high-contrast, "cartooney" images like logos, whereas the .jpg standard is better for photos.

Photos are split into two categories:

  • A small image (logo, headshot) may be uploaded to appear as the representative image in the category/results views (the page where many listings are shown in a category or search results). This image will also show floating beside the contact information on the listing details page.
  • Up to three additional images can be uploaded. These are typically large images, meant to span the width of the listing details page. They provide a great opportunity to enhance a listing. Example
  • If there is no image uploaded as the "Logo", but at least one image is uploaded to the "Images" section, then one of the "images" will appear in the logo space in the search/category results, but not in the logo space on the details page.
    For example, see the listing illustrated below, where no "logo" has been uploaded. The first "image" uploaded to the listing shows in the logo's place on the search/category results page (left) but remains in its proper place on the details page (right).

Listing detail page:

-Phone numbers are forced into a standardized display format (###-###-####). Users can enter text after their phone number (such as "Ext. 311") and this will show up in the field without problems, as long as the first part of the phone number is entered properly.

Featured Listings:

The admin can set certain listings to be "featured", which means that they will always appear first in categories and search results. Here are the ways in which a "featured listing" is distinguished from regular listings:

  • It appears at the top of any search/category results in which it is listed
  • It has its own special design to make it stand out from other listings (and can easily be skinned farther with a custom work order)
  • It shows the business's website URL (hyperlinked) in the search/category results, whereas a regular listing's URL will only show/link on its details page.

Admin control:

-Listings are subject to admin approval. Admin receives notification of listings to be approved, with a link to the "pending listings" page in the backend. The admin can view and edit all of the listings' details before they approve the listings.

-When the admin is adding/editing listings, there is a WYSIWYG editor. The submitter doesn't have this when they create the listing, so the admin may need to add some minor formatting (line breaks, mostly) to the listing description upon approval. To address this challenge, there is a snippet-editable line of text on the submission form, which says: "Description - Please note that if you want to use separate paragraphs (line breaks) in here, you will need to contact us with your desired formatting." (This snippet may be found/edited in the CMS's snippet manager; the snippet is called #business-directory-add-listing-formatting#.)

-The admin can specify whether the listing's "website" field shows an active (hypertext) link, or just a textual web address (via the "make link" checkbox on the "edit/approve listing" page). The admin can also specify whether all of the links in the listing, including any links in the listing description, should be "nofollow" (via the "Set Links to No-Follow" checkbox on the "edit/approve listing" page).

-Categories have an editable description (only the admin can edit them), and also have an option for designating "related categories", which appear as links at the bottom of category pages.

-There is a snippet-editable callout box ("If you know of a business or organization that should appear in our directory, please add it!") that appears on the main page. (This snippet may be found/edited in the CMS's snippet manager; the snippet is called #business-directory-intro#.)

-There is also an editable snippet called #business-directory-add-listing-page#. This generates the text which appears at the top of the "Submit your listing" page (http://[yoursite.com]/directory/add/), in a simple box. By default, this snippet generates the following text:

Attention: We moderate all listing submissions. If your listing is not meant to be useful for our local audience, it will not be approved, so please don't waste your time. If your business is legitimately local but we think your listing is intended only for the "backlink", we will put a "nofollow" attribute on your link so that search engine benefits do not apply.

-The admin has ample control over meta content:

  • S/he can specify the default meta content for the directory via the "Directory Settings" in the directory backend. This populates the meta content on the main page, and also informs the meta content on other pages. There is a "Directory Name" field that sets a variable for the other directory pages (see below).
  • The category pages' meta titles will default to "[Category Name] | [Directory Name]"
  • Each listing page's meta title will default to "[Business Name] | [Category Name] | [Directory Name]". Or, the default can be overridden; the admin can manually create a meta title for each listing.

The Directory Sitemap

The directory automatically generates its own sitemap to make the directory's contents more visible to search engines. It can be found at "http://[yoursite.com]/directory/sitemap.html".

The sitemap page will be organized one of two ways; you can toggle between these two which you can toggle in the "directory settings" in your site's backend (in the "Directory" section):

  1. Category Display: If this option is selected, the directory sitemap will show two lists of links:
    • Links to a set of random "Featured Listings" from the directory. This list updates dynamically so that all listings are crawled by search engines at a more "shallow" level of the site, at some point.
    • Links to all of the categories (including sub-categories) in your directory.
    • Note: The "Category Display" sitemap configuration is best for directories that are using three levels of category. This way, no category/listing is too "deep" from the home page.
  2. Listings Display: If this option is selected, the directory sitemap will show one long list of links to listing details pages. No links to category pages will appear.
    • Note: The "Listings Display" sitemap configuration is best for directories that are using only two levels of category.

Directory Snippets

With "Directory Snippets", you can output directory listings onto your website's other pages. This works similarly to how REW's "IDX snippets" pull listings from an IDX and list them on a page; your directory snippets will pull listings from the business directory (based on categories or keyword searches). Imagine having a list of mortgage companies on a page about financing, or golf courses listed on a golf communities page, for example. Or you might add a list of nearby restaurants and coffee houses on each neighbourhood page. Or, you could create a concierge page with a lot of your favourite businesses listed together on one page.

To do this, you just need to create simple snippets, as described below. Then those snippets are placed on whatever CMS pages you decide.

  • Go to the backend of your website, click on the "Directory" tab, then click on "Directory Snippets", and finally select "New Directory Snippet".
    • You can create a snippet which pulls all listings that appear in a certain category (or list of categories), or:
    • You can create a snippet which pulls all listings that contain a certain keyword (or list of keywords, separated by commas, e.g., golf, tennis court, racquetball).
  • In the "Snippet Settings" option at right, enter a "name" for this snippet (without spaces; this is only visible to you) as well as a "Title" (this will show as a heading above the listings when the snippet's contents appear on the page where you will be placing the snippet).
  • Remember/copy the "name" of the snippet, and place/paste it on a CMS page where you want the listings to appear, surrounded by #'s. For example, if you named your directory snippet "country-club-sports", then you would place "#country-club-sports#" (without the quote marks) on a CMS page.