Local search has long held a tremendous amount of promise but shown disappointing results for Yahoo, Google, Ask and MSN. However, the major search engines have continued to put R&D into the local search space, and things might be turning around.
What has happened to make this turn around possible is the quick user adoption of social networking features within a local search structure. Yahoo, in particular, has been keen on this idea and has implemented tools such as Consumer Submit to allow for a more interactive local search experience.
We will see even more of this type of development in 2007 as search continues to undergo market pressure to stay relevant. Search will become more socialized, more niche-minded and more local.
One practical example is SuperPages.com.
Idearc’s SuperPages.com has launched a “Reviewer of the Week” feature as a step towards providing local content within a social networking environment based on geography and location. Users of the site in the same city “compete” against each other to be featured as the “Reviewer of the Week.” That person gets featured in a special section on the SuperPages.com homepage.
“Local search is hot and so is social networking, so it makes sense that we combine the two,” said Robyn Rose, vice president of marketing for SuperPages.com. “Whether you’re talking about finding the best Italian restaurant or a reliable plumber, SuperPages.com provides robust local search capabilities, along with ratings and user reviews, to connect circles of trusted individuals.”
To be featured as a Reviewer of the Week, users must write reviews of their favorite businesses during the prior week. Results are updated each Wednesday and precedence is given to reviewers who have written the most reviews. The tactic attempts to draw more repeat reviewers over time rather than just one time users.
Users who submit the most reviews are highlighted on the home page of SuperPages.com according to where the reviewer is located, which is based on the ZIP code provided in the registration. So, the effect is geo-targeted according to location.
SuperPages.com currently has more than 324,000 reviews and listings with consumer-provided content. And, they have even developed a Firefox plugin for users. Nifty communal web2.0-ness. Now all we need is a Superpages.com widget!