Local Search – consolidation coming soon?

24 Jan
2007

Beyond what Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask (I’m including CitySearch) offer, there are a lot of other local search/review websites. To name the notable:

  • InsiderPages Funded by IdeaLab, an incubation company whose previous successes include Overture
  • Zipingo (owned by Inuit, makers of Quicken)
  • Judy’s Book – VC funded, I am including them here because a large majority of their traffic/base is still based on adding reviews for local establishments
  • Yelp – VC funded, part of the ‘PayPal alumni creations’
  • TrueLocal – owned by GeoSign, a well established internet company
  • Local.com – publicly traded company

So we have six websites, all duking it out with the four big boys of the internet. And as almost always happens in a fragmented market, problems are starting to rear.

InsiderPages just went through some big layoffs. Zipingo really hasn’t made much of a splash, and with Google’s recent partnership with Inuit, may just be pushed aside. Judy’s Book was forced to change its plan to survive (but still has great value in its existing review-base). Yelp is the golden boy, chugging along, but has raised over $15 million. TrueLocal admittedly a different breed – it is actually sells its data. And local.com – well they seem to have already started the acquisition game, picking up soUno to build up its revenue stream.

The fact that none of them are profitable (except for TrueLocal) will lead to some casualties in the upcoming year. My prediction is that by the end of the year, only Yelp, TrueLocal, and Local.com will still exist. My prediction for the other three:

  • InsiderPages – the management at IdeaLabs cannot be happy. They are used to getting press – a lot of it. Yelp has stolen any thunder the site has, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Yelp comes in and acquires the site. It does have over $10 million laying around …
  • Zipingo – eliminated. As Google and Inuit’s partnership bears fruit, and Zipingo’s lackluster traction is considered, it will be axed.
  • Judy’s Book – won’t survive. All their goodwill, all their traffic, and all their SEO benefits have been from local reviews. Alexa already shows a steady decline in pageviews, and so people just are not sticking around. As the value of their reviews diminishes, I see the site drying up. Sorry Andy, I just don’t see it happening

Others are launching – ie Mojo Pages. I don’t see them surviving long either – their blog focuses a lot on accounting and usability, but absolutely none on actually reaching mass market (which is the problem IP and Yelp really suffered from). I predict a quick demise for them also.

4 Responses to Local Search – consolidation coming soon?

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jda

January 25th, 2007 at 3:15 pm

The problem as I see it, is that data from other regular people just isn’t that interesting. I hear a lot of people say ‘none of these sites have enough reviews’ but that’s not what really matters. In fact I think you can have too many reviews. I’d rather see only a handful of reviews from people that actually know what they’re talking about. Yelp is considered the golden boy, but I’d say 98% of the reviews on Yelp are meaningless. And Yelp pays something like $10/review in some areas of the country… which seems to mean that it’s not as hot as everyone claims.

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Ahmed

January 25th, 2007 at 3:31 pm

Oh yeah – Yelp, InsiderPages, and Judy’s Book have all paid for users to add reviews.

I disagree with having too many reviews. The problem is too many crappy reviews. Reviews where people talk about stuff when they don’t really know what they are talking about. I also argue that a lot of reviews being pushed on sites like Yelp are more towards trendyness than of actual value. Eg Yelp.com itself has over 400 reviews, and one of the latest reviews points out the mob-mentality: read

What we need (and we are starting to formulate this on iBegin) is a system that tells you how close a reviewer is to your own tastes. Eg if you see a review on Red Lobster. Some people may give it 5 out of 5, while others may give it 2 out of 5. By matching the reviewers and your own other reviews, it would be possible for the platform to state which review is most relevant to you.

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

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jda

January 25th, 2007 at 5:36 pm

442 reviews for Yelp, my guess is 443 is not going to add much to the conversation.

Quality is a part of what I was trying to get at, and I’m sure something like what you’re working on at iBegin will go a long way to that end. We’ll see.

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K Lindley

February 8th, 2007 at 10:16 pm

Local search needs to be adapted in my opinion soley for the reason that we all(I) hate having the yellow page directories in my home. And besides, I’m getting too old to read them

I have personally used the Local.com site many times and find it extremely reliable to give me an accurate and comprehensive search of only what I want. For instance, I broke my eyeglasses so I went to the repair shop that had repaired the years ago, however they were no longer at that location . Local.com
brought the company up in the 1st five results and furnished a map detailing the new location.

Three days ago my son needed a windsheild replaced before he could get his car inspected. He called me on the phone to ask what he should do and before we finished our conversation he had directions to the closest business that replaced autoglass at a resonable price.

I have used no other search engine that give a more reliable search results for ANY given city than Local.com………….. KDL

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