Local.com Adds Reviews
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.
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Reviews and ratings are great. The content on Local.com is a horrific mess. I’m searching for an Estate Planning Attorney in my Colorado hometown and WOW…what a ginormous collection of cr*p comes back in the search results.
I see a sponsored link to SuperPages, and featured listings for law firm in CHICAGO and a local all lines INSURANCE agency – all above the fold. That information doesn’t do one thing to help me find an estate planning attorney.
A little further down in the “Local Listings” #1 and #2 are listings for a FINANCIAL PLANNING firm that’s clever enough to ad “estate planning” to their list of keywords. Listing #3 is for a REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT lawyer. Then comes the National Estate Planning Institute followed by two listings (both the same) for a PERSONAL INJURY Attorney at InjuryHelplineAttorney.com. Then comes a listing for a CPA firm and well, you get the idea. Maybe I’m gullible enough to click on a financial planning firm’s link because it has estate planning in the keyword list but for the most part – none of that information does anything to help me find an estate planning attorney.
At the top of the page is a goofy animated banner ad for LowerMyBills.com. Not goofy…just insulting my intelligence. Down the left side is a tower ad for a free trial of the 2008 Diet Pill of the Year. Yeah, let’s click on that before I find what I came to this ridiculous site to find. And across the bottom, if you like Ocean Spray products, is a chance to click away from your Estate Planning Attorney search — for a Cranergy coupon. Woo-Hoo, it’s my lucky day. In fact, I’m so lucky I get to keep on searching because I still don’t have even the slightest idea where I’m going to find an estate planning attorney.
Yeah, it’s banner advertising and yeah companies are still shelling out huge buckets of dough for this stuff and sites like Local.com are gladly cashing the checks.
What’ll be interesting is when site users (consumers) wake up and realize that 80-90% of the garbage on most of these sites has nothing to do with what they’re searching for and abandon these collections of misdirected and useless ads forever. It’s clearly happening now as this is why there are so many of these sites to begin with.
On the flip side, it’ll be equally as interesting to see what happens when advertisers (in the case of my search above — estate planning attorney advertisers) realize that all this garbage on the pages they appear on really doesn’t do much, if anything, to help them connect with potential customers. What I’m seeing does more to distract and drive potential clients away.
I wonder who’s going to wake up and smell the coffee first.
But maybe it’s just me. I’ve been playing around in this sandbox since the sandbox was first built and possibly my expectations are just too high.
I do agree with all of the ideas you have offered in your post.
They are very convincing and will definitely work.
Still, the posts are too quick for newbies. May just you please extend them a little from subsequent time?
Thanks for the post.