Business listing provider?
April 14, 2006 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Where do directory web sites get their business listings?

Citysearch, for example. I'm thinking about starting a web site that would benefit from having local business listings incorporated, and while ideally the listings would be user-submitted so as not to have to deal with licensing issues, I don't think the site would make it off the ground if there were nothing there to begin with. Is there some public source of business listing data that I could use as a starting point?
posted by hades to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
In many cities, business need to apply for licenses and/or DBA ("doing business as") registration. The DBAs get published in the newspaper, and you could try a Freedom of Information Act request for the licensee info.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:04 PM on April 14, 2006

Hmm, that's a good thought. Seattle, for example, has a web front end to their business license database:

But the business licenses give the address and phone number of the corporate offices, not necessarily of the physical place of business. A bookstore by my house is listed in a different city because that's where the parent company is, for example.
posted by hades at 3:32 PM on April 14, 2006

When I worked for an online yellow pages, they bought their national business data from Acxiom. Of course, that was after they got busted for getting their original data from one of those $10 CD's that has business listings in it.

As for a free source, you might be able to use the Google API to run queries against their local listings. I don't know what their rules are for using that data.

You can read about the legal protections for using other's listing databases here.
posted by sciatica at 6:23 PM on April 14, 2006

To go along with Hades comment, the success of your site could rest on the accuracy of your listing data. If your users see obviously bad information, they might not trust the rest of your site.

I am not saying you have to shell out a ton of money for listings, just that you should consider how much "free" data could end up costing you.
posted by sciatica at 6:28 PM on April 14, 2006

Yeah, after more looking around, I think this may be a case where licensing someone else's data is the best way to go. I'll check out prices from infoUSA and Acxiom and such. Thanks!
posted by hades at 11:32 AM on April 15, 2006

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