11 Business Networking Sites Suited for Online Reputation Management and SEO
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11 Business Networking Sites Suited for Online Reputation Management and SEO

Is it a business directory? Is it a business networking site? Is it an overzealous hybrid destined to over-extend itself and die on the vine? For our purposes today we’ll refer to them as “biz sites” and it can’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the wide range that are available. They’re free to use, easy to sign up for and potentially helpful to your company or agency in a wide variety of ways you may not have realized.

Although LinkedIn and Plaxo have an imposing headlock on the B2B and B2C business networking space, there are a lot of others jockeying for position whom you likely haven’t even heard of – let alone begun to utilize. Although taking the time to register your own company or that of a client on these “2nd-tier” networks probably won’t result in the flood of direct traffic, leads or new contacts that the major players may have driven – there are still very tangible and numerous benefits to taking the time to build yourself a presence on each. These are listed in no particular order as I recommend them all as part of any comprehensive ORM or SEO effort:

Social Networking Sites for Business

  1. My Cubicle Space: Their stated mission is to provide a search engine platform where any business can promote their product or service in a creative way to the fore front for millions of people. Free to use and includes press release submission, blog and keyword targeting capabilities. HQ: Watertown, MA.
  2. Ryze: Members get a free networking-oriented home page and can send messages to other members. They can also join special networks related to their industry, interests or location. The local features are particularly impressive and should be perfect for businesses with physical store locations or service areas. Both free and paid options exist. HQ: San Francisco, CA.
  3. Ziggs: A definite fore-runner of the emerging LinkedIn competition, Ziggs allows you to build a profile, network, post jobs and other classifieds and is strongly marketed as an online brand management resource. HQ: Boston, MA.
  4. Naymz: Naymz’s solid tagline “Empowering Reputable Professionals” relays their understanding of ORM’s massive importance. If you maintain a decent “rep score”, based in large on how many people you get to vouch for you and therefore refer to the site, they will create a Google ad for you with a budget of $10. HQ: Chicago, IL.
  5. FastPitch: Billed as a “professional social network”, Fast Pitch has added an impressive amount of useful features during their short existence including a press release submission option, blogs, event calendars a helpful tour, some early integration with other social networks and the ability to see a list of other online members. HQ: Sarasota, FL
  6. Spoke: I like the fact that Spoke features rotating member profiles on their home page. They heavily tout the lead-generation potential of their network as a strength, possibly making it more apt to attract those with B2C lead generation as opposed to networking priorities. HQ: San Mateo, CA
  7. Zoom Info: One of the more established sites on this list, Zoom Info has been around since 1999 and according to the home page has over 42 million people and 3 million companies as part of their database. The site is clearly defined for three specific purposes: searching for people, searching for companies and searching for a job. Personal profiles are free to create and company profiles are apparently coming soon. HQ: Waltham, MA.
  8. Konnects: No identity crisis here. Konnects is a B2B networking site with a very human-oriented feel. Lots of headshots, rotating newest member list on the homepage and a big focus placed on physical events. Free to sign up and you can request via email a “group” for your organization which I am assuming means an eventual quote on a branded community. HQ: Tacoma, WA.
  9. Upperz: The “social network site for professional use” has a long way to go before nipping away at anyone else’s market share, but the latest member blog postings and media gallery featured on the front page are a bit of differentiation. A serious lack of company (I can’t tell for the life of me where they are head quartered) or feature information puts Upperz on my “maybe someday when I have a lot more free time” list.
  10. Direct Matches: It sounds and frankly looks a lot like a dating site, but Direct Matches is aimed at business people. Their mission states that they are the first site to “deploy a multi-matchmaking system that helps people locate everything from business contacts to finding friendship and dates online”. I spoke too soon. Perhaps they are over-reaching but the dating angle is certainly unique – and potentially the basis for an equally unique sexual harassment suit. HQ:
  11. Xing: The “first Web 2.0 site to go public” definintely looks the part. The clean design, mobile capabilities and numerous mentions in top trade publications make it 2.0 all the way. Purporting to transcend all countries, languages and industries – Xing is definitely a must for professionals who do a lot of business internationally. HQ: Hamburg, GER.

Business Networking Sites for Direct Traffic
How many of today’s most successful web entities started in a dorm room? What is small time today might be huge tomorrow and even if you don’t start immediately having your door beaten down by contacts and customers who find you via Zing – you never know. It’s also important to take into consideration where some of the new or lesser business networking sites may have a strong foothold internationally. Even if a given biz site is only big in Asia it’s still going to provide you with a brand new link. Considering the supplemental benefits we’re discussing today I believe they are worthwhile if well designed and well intentioned – regardless of a site’s current popularity.

Business Sites for Search Engine Optimization
Unless you’ve been exiled to Siberia for the last two years you know that building one-way, incoming links to your website is an enormously important facet of SEO. All of the aforementioned sites allow you various levels of link inclusion. Some limit you to a URL, some automatically link the URL with the company name you input and others allow for the embedding of links in HTML-friendly summary sections allowing you to craft the hyperlink text to your target keyword specifications. A few hours spent creating presences on all of the aforementioned sites is going to be of better SEO value than a week of submissions to crummy “directories”.

Business Sites for Online Reputation Management
On many of the sites I list below you can get your company or personal name into the URL, header tag, title tag or a combination. As these three elements are held in very high regard by search engine algorithms, biz sites can be tremendously helpful for online brand reputation management. If someone Googles the name of your company, for example, and finds your dedicated page on Spoke – that could mean a negative blog post from a critical customer being pushed down to the second page of the search results for a potential one.

Do you use a similar biz site that hasn’t made our list? Am I using terminology or descriptions that can be tightened up (one of the things that perplexes me about this space is how to properly categorize the different sites)? Do you represent one of the sites listed and want to provide a little more info? Please let me know and we’ll keep this post evolving. Get networking/SEOing/Reputation defending and I look forward to your additions and comments.

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{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Gina June 17, 2008, 6:57 pm

    Great list of sites! I’m on about half of them and have never heard of the other ones, so I definitely have some research to do later on today.

    I work for a networking site called Salesconx. It’s an online marketplace for business referrals. Think of it as LinkedIn meets Ebay! Users can buy and or sell their business contacts to each other through our safe marketplace.

    Feel free to check it out and let me know if it’s useful!

    Thanks again for the great entry,
    -Gina
    http://www.salesconx.com

  • Sharon August 7, 2008, 6:19 pm

    Hi,
    Great list of sites. I actually work for konnects.com. We do offer branded communities for organizations. But we do also have communities that are specifically for people’s industry or location that they live which are free to join and easy to network in.

  • chandra October 12, 2008, 8:32 am

    i think there are more and more sites launching everyday for business networking. i think linkedin tops the list. livebiznet.com is another business networking site thats launched exclusively for SMBs to increase their visibility and sales. they offer sales accelerator which i hooked to my website to instantly chat with my website visitors.. i felt this is a cool tool to boost my sales!!

  • Udi Drezner December 22, 2008, 1:25 pm

    You can also add LookupPage to your list. This service in not a social network like LinkedIn or Naymz, but designated for professional users who want to create a web page of their own, that will be visible in all search engines. You can check it out if you like :-)

  • Jay Liardi January 18, 2009, 5:37 pm

    This Is not only a perfict way to show case who you are and what your company offers but has a positive effect on how your customers can get real reviews about your services. As a Reputation Broker you earn commissions, on users and also, through networking on the efforts of other brokers that see the bigger picture.

  • Seo Submissions February 10, 2009, 7:30 am

    Articles also play some part in internet marketing. As articles are read by visitors there are more chances for visitors coming to the sites. Articles should be relevant to the theme of the site

  • Gary Winnick February 25, 2009, 6:44 am

    Good and very informative post.

  • Thomas November 12, 2009, 10:01 pm

    This is a good list, i have checked out some of these sites but some are quite expensive. Im currently using http://www.universalclients.com becasue their free, i have to say i am very pleased. Some of these sites are worth checking out, especially Ryze, i used to be a member with them.

    Many thanks

  • Kary Argo March 28, 2010, 9:53 pm

    That’s a very interesting post that you have. I stumbled on a new one the other day. They look open for business, but very similar to linkedin.com with more of a social business directory look and feel. Nice clean interface though. It’s at SocialTerrain.com

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