Local.com today announced it has added the ability for users to write reviews directly on the site. This will include ratings (five-star system) and reviews that registered users can submit and track over time.
The question of reviews in the local space has evolved from “should?” to “how?” Ratings and reviews are table stakes and an expectation for users. Many of the concerns about advertiser appeasement and spotty reviews volume have mostly quieted. The question is mostly how you get the reviews. Distribution deals have been popular.
Over the past 18 months, Local.com has been on a roll in signing distribution deals with Citysearch, Superpages and Yelp. These partners get extra distribution for their advertisers while Local.com gets a revenue share and a boost to its content volumes. In these deals the content has included local reviews (especially Yelp).
For Local.com this joins some of its direct advertising packages in a move toward building unique and proprietary content, beyond that acquired from distribution. Now that it has the ability to generate its own reviews it should have an impact on review volume and the overall user experience.
Google Maps made a similar move exactly one year ago when it went from purely aggregated reviews to original content. Local.com gets a lot of traffic (16 million monthly uniques); not as much as Google Maps, but this should be a valuable and logical addition.