Been taking a closer look at a lot of local search sites this past week. Thought it would be interesting to compare a few in a post. Let's start with the Web 2.0 sites. There are five factors I looked at to measure local search sites (this includes Web 2.0, local search portals and online directories). 1) Abundance
of listings 2) Community
content & tools to drive viral word-of-mouth 3) Trust
based on availability of ratings and reviews 4) Research
availability (excluding reviews) and 5) user convenience
First things first. For the Web 2.0 sites, Yelp
takes the cake. Of the three major Web 2.0 local search sites (Yelp, Insiderpages
), Yelp led all three in terms of traffic (Alexa Rank 3605 vs 6657 and 6050 respectively). Given the below, it looks like they did it with more than just better marketing...
Measuring abundance was tricky. Type in 'restaurants' for all three (I did this for SF and NYC). Yelp's listings are 2x the number of the other sites. That being said, Yelp's categorization of listings seems to be screwed up. Insiderpages has 1,700 physicians in their system for SF. Type in "doctor" in Yelp and you get 3,800. Now try to find that 'doctor' category on the Yelp page. Their "Health and Medical" category only has 382 listings for SF... weird. 1) Abundance => Yelp (with a categorization caveat)
While all three sites have a fairly clear community integration to their listings and reviews, Yelp surfaces community more directly (both in user profiles via compliments and on their homepage w/ 'messaging' and 'talk' features up front). InsiderPages has taken more of a business directory experience (focusing on the categories/listings), while I'm not sure how to categorize Judysbook. Yelp's social-network focus seems to have driven a greater concentration of reviews. Taking a broad sampling of listings, Yelp had more than 15%-25% of listings with an associated review. Insiderpages and Judysbook were at 5%-10%. 2) Community => Yelp 3) Trust => Yelp
None of the sites offered any real research content associated to the general category of interest. Citysearch has taken an interesting angle on this, but I'll reserve that review for another post. 4) Research => they all lose
Finally, on user convenience, all three have great interfaces. That said, Yelp definitely needs to work on their categorization of listings. Finding content through their category structure is difficult and doesn't surface anywhere near the number of listings that are actually in their system. Insiderpages has a very clean interface and isn't as cluttered as Judysbook. 5) User convenience => Insiderpages
With Yelp taking 3 out of 5, I hereby award Yelp the best Web 2.0 Local Search site for May 2006 (at least until Judysbook and Insiderpages come out with their v3.0).
Update: Thanks to Jeremy from Yelp for clarifying - Yelp's categorization focuses on user reviews vs listings, hence the lower result. Looks like Yelp is focusing on user reviews vs showing abundant listings alone.