192.com unveils first online/offline business directory

192.com has unveiled the latest string to its bow, an online/offline business directory enquiry search feature, which merges both web-based and traditional data, in addition to adding more than 200,000 entries not previously recorded.

The new search functionality is designed to enable users to obtain relevant results much more quickly than if they used competing sites, according to 192.com.

And, while the people-focused search industry is near saturation point, the company reckons that there is still a lot of potential left in the business market, an area it plans to embrace.

The company's new business dataset is a result of scouring the UK web, using a spidering search technique, to obtain relevant information, such as contacts, opening hours, mobile phone numbers, location and so on, from businesses. This data is now stored offline for instant online access.

192.com's spiders search for information updates once every three weeks to ensure up-to-date data, which is much more frequently than traditional, paper-based phone directories, which are often updated once every year to 18 months, according to Dominic Blackburn, new technology director at the company.

And, according to Blackburn, results - that are relevant rather than randomly linked to the search term used - are displayed speedily.

"If you type in the word Ivy into other search engines, they will bring back results about gardening as well as restaurants," he said.

"We experience 100 million searches a year and results are delivered in sub seconds compared to an average of 45 seconds with other directory enquiry services. We look at the trends of what people have typed or meant to type and sometimes these become synonyms."

Now that its web data set service is live, 192.com, which boasts 1.5 million unique visitors each month and has seen 1100 per cent growth in search volumes in the last 40 months, has big plans for next year to build on its innovation.

Details are limited as yet, but it's likely that business searches will be a prominent feature.

"Two or three years ago our searches were 90 per cent residential and 10 per cent business whereas now it's probably 50/30. We definitely see that business searches are on the increase," said Blackburn.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.