Australian online directory HotFrog launched yesterday in the U.K. The site brings the buzzcloud concept to directory listings (see how this is used by social search engines such as Eurekster’s Swicki and Yahoo!’s My Web). This is very fitting to online directory content because it is category based.
Listings are free for businesses to post, which falls in line with the site’s model to collect as much content as possible and serve sponsored links (AdWords) against it. The site also allows businesses to tag their listings with keywords of their choice. This should improve SEO benefiting businesses and HotFrog alike and assist in contextually matching sponsored links more effectively than a listing alone could do.
Given that AdWords appears to be the site’s only form of monetization, it will have to scale its traffic and content to a considerable degree if to achieve meaningful revenues. For businesses, the free listing and SEO benefits are clear, and for users the site design and Web 2.0 appeal of the buzzcloud and RSS feeds are attractive.
But the site will face the same challenges as any company entering the crowded local search space. In order to scale to the necessary degree, it will either have to rely on marketing itself as a destination or on effective SEO to show up in search engine results (the newly launched Krillion has some interesting thoughts on the latter strategy, on which it has built its product model).
How well it can get businesses to tag their own content (which, again, is beneficial to the businesses themselves) will affect this SEO strategy. Similarly, U.K. local businesses’ ability and affinity to participate in this tagging (and the degree to which HotFrog can communicate this “help us help you” message) could be vital.