New player in Local Search

Filed in Local Search by Matt McGee on July 2, 2006 0 Comments

Finally back from a long vacation, and slowly getting back into the swing. I have about a dozen URLs that I saved while on vacation for further investigation, so be prepared for some serious catching up here on SBS.

One of the saved URLs belongs to, a site that sounds like it should be devoted to dogs with vocal problems, but is actually an up-and-comer in the Local Search field. And based on a quick dig, I like what I see there. It takes the best of Yahoo Local Search — user-generated reviews and ratings — and adds a few extra community/social twists.

For starters, the interface is friendlier and more attractive than Yahoo. Greg Sterling nailed it in a recent SEW Blog post about Yelp:

The site looks like a party. It’s got lots of personality compared to some of its competitors, which seem “cold” by comparison. And it’s not uncommon to find 10, 20, 30 even 40 or more reviews of numerous businesses vs. the typical one, two or five reviews on many of Yelp’s competitors.

“Party” may be a bit strong, but “personality” is spot on. Yelp has the same personality and style that Flickr has — you see it before you sign up for an account, kinda like “There’s something interesting going on in here.” I’ve just signed up for an account and plan to figure out what exactly is going on in there….

Meanwhile, the real value of Yelp or Yahoo Local or any other site that couples search with reviews depends on getting users signed up and writing content. Yelp began in San Francisco, and the city page for SF is a terrific community resource. In smaller communities, there’s still room for improvement — as you’d expect from a new destination like Yelp.

On the last night of vacation, the McGee family spent the night in Bend, Oregon, before driving the final leg home. A Yelp search for restaurants in Bend, OR produces 229 results, compared to 415 results on Yahoo. But that’s not a good measuring stick, because Bend doesn’t have that many restaurants. A better measuring stick is user reviews, and in this example, Yahoo has the edge over Yelp.

But such comparisons aren’t really fair to Yelp; it’s like putting a hot rookie pitching prospect up against Roger Clemens. Duh. Who do you think grades out better? Better to do what you should with that rookie — keep an eye on him and watch him develop. Yelp looks like one prospect that could be on the way to the big leagues.

Oh, do I even need to encourage the business owners reading this that you should go make sure that 1) you’re listed, and 2) your listing is accurate? I hope not.

Now excuse me while I go write a couple reviews….

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