Community Powered Local Search – This Could Actually Work

Local BuzzerWhen I stumbled upon a site called Local Buzzer last night, I have to admit that I was skeptical. “Easiest Local Search Ever” is what it uses as its tag line. My reaction to this:

“Oh reeeaaallly.”

One thing I liked and probably the only reason I tried it was the homepage layout — one of the cleanest I’ve seen. I tried something pretty random – Chiropractor/my zip code. While the results page is nicely set up with Google maps integration, the real juice is in the community aspect. It has a chance to be truly local.

Local Buzzer Home

Two interesting quotes from the About page:

“We are here to promote that conversation and provide tools for our community to discuss the places that they are passionate about.”

“By looking at local businesses through the lens of the collective community on Local Buzzer, you will always find a place that is new and interesting. We are committed to giving every local business a fair chance at being the next big thing.”

Interesting concept. The only way this will work (and I definitely think it can) is with a nice number of people in one’s local area using it. The bad part about most of the review sites is that you can’t find sites or businesses that haven’t been reviewed. The problem with classifieds and map searches is that they don’t have many, if any, reviews. In theory, Local Buzzer brings the two together into one neat, clean package.

Here are some more quotes from the About page and our analysis of what they propose:

Search Local Buzzer

User Powered Local Search

We believe that a community working together will create the best search results. Every user will have the power to suggest new businesses, edit business details, review and rate businesses. We will rank our search results based on the user input for any particular business.

Assuming that they are able to get businesses themselves to be active and participate with the site, this can be a really good thing. It’s like having a free listing, so they should be more inclined to make sure the details are correct. Since it offers reviews, those who know about it will be more inclined to visit often and suggest that their clients check it out.

Speedy Results

The whole focus of the site is to give the users what they want, quickly. We have spent a lot of time making sure users should be able to find businesses they are looking for in the shortest amount of time.

This is the part that I’ve been personally dying to see for ages. The search engines are too gamed, too cumbersome, and don’t always have relevant results. If I can pop in and find my next Pizza purchase quickly… that’s a beautiful, wonderful, awesome thing.

Local Buzzer Results

Community Driven

We dont worry about any bottom lines and “pay for placements”. You get honest results. We are not about clients, page impressions and traffic. We write reviews, upload pictures, choose our favorite businesses, and enjoy making friends just like everyone else.

I have questions here, but that’s not to say that it won’t work. I can see it as a valuable service, but getting people to sign up is the tough part. I signed up, and while I admit that it was a no-brainer, no-time-waster style setup that I prefer, I wonder how many people will use it but never sign up. On the other hand, there are advantages to having limited signups. Those who do are probably doing so because they feel passionately one way or the other about local businesses. They want their opinions to be heard. That part alone would make signing up worthwhile.

Pound for pound, I think LocalBuzzer has a real chance of making it. I hope it does — I know I would use it.

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About JD Rucker

+JD Rucker is Editor at Soshable, a Social Media Marketing Blog. He is a Christian, a husband, a father, and founder of both Judeo Christian Church and Dealer Authority. He drinks a lot of coffee, usually in the form of a 5-shot espresso over ice. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Comments

  1. I’m interested to give this a try. Sometimes I have a hard time finding local results on google, and it gets frustrating.

  2. This local search looks great! I really like the user-powered sites, as it’s relatively easy for automated programs to miss a lot of content. I’ve often found Google’s local search to be lacking, and felt that if I could add items to it that would be very beneficial.

  3. And this differs from EveryBlock or Platial how? There are many of these kinds of services. To be truly a community engine requires federating search itself; to be a broker more like FireEagle.

  4. why is this better than yahoo local? my fave pizza place wasn’t on here.

  5. Canadian folks might be interested in http://ourbis.com. Same idea, the site has been around for some time.

  6. One real challenge to local review sites are chain stores. Does the site generalize, or rate each one separately. Take for example, Starbucks. They’re corporate owned, not franchise, and yet the three by my house are entirely different in terms of quality of service. And even then due to their high turnover rate “the good one” has shifted at least twice. I don’t know if a website can capture that kind of knowledge.

  7. I tried it and it broke. A script error kept popping up and I had to “kill” it… and the results were pretty lame, especially since every point on the map was the exact same restaurant:

    “Mi Pueblito”!!!

    nice try. needs some major work.

  8. Isnt this the same as Yelp?

  9. Tom Best says:

    Fail. Site is SLOW

  10. Meh. The login has fundamental flaws (no check for duplicate accounts, poor password handling, etc). Moreover, the listings are not much smarter than CitySearch.

    I dig that the concept of local search + community editing = goodness, but the execution here is lacking.

  11. Yelp already does this, and I think they do it better.

  12. Aww that sucks, this dosnt work for Ontario (Canada)

  13. I don’t understand how this is different from Yelp, except for being clumsier and lacking the ability to refine your searches by category or region…

  14. We’re taking a different but similar approach to the problem at povo.com (Boston/NY only at the moment). We take every block/park/street in the city and make a wiki page for it, including the knowledge of where it is in space. Each listing (can be a business or a park or a UPS drop box or whatever) can be tagged and also use “templates” (like wikipedia). You can then search by tags in an area. What’s more interesting, we hope, is that you can write your own search engines (Povo has a scripting language within the wiki markup). So on povo you can ask “where can I park for less than $15 for 2 hours near the zoo?” That entire “process” of data gathering and evolving search engine is user controlled.

    Perhaps most importantly, the entire site is Creative Commons licensed. So if you want to build your own YP site, or your own “cheapest gas prices” site you can use Povo as the data and back end for it, and monetize it how you wish, so long as you give attribution.

    Some links to illustrate the point:

    Neighborhoods are important too:
    http://boston.povo.com/Back%20Bay

    Parking search:
    http://boston.povo.com/Boston?search=&verb=search&search=&query=parking&tags=parking&text=&addr=Boston%3ABoston&radius=Boston&sortKey=&SearchTemplates=Parking_Garage&Parking_Garage.ParkingTime=90&Parking_Garage.MaximumParkingRate=15&x=70&y=14

    A interactive “heatmap” of parking density in Boston:
    http://boston.povo.com/Boston?heatmap&radius=Boston&query=parking&tags=parking

  15. There are so many local search sites its amazing. We’ve created what we feel is the next evolution of local search, “Local Suggestion”. Our site, http://www.thesuggestr.com , uses a collaborative filtering algorithm to predict how well users will like businesses they’ve never even been to. We also use our algorithm to build similarity ratings between users so you can quickly see which reviewers share your tastes.

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