Another Approach to Local Search

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Mickey Alam Khan's article on local search really highlighted what seems to get lost in all of the recent hype from search engines about "local search" ("Local Search Is Primed for Sizable Growth," May 23). From a small business advertiser's perspective, paid search is just way too complex. From a consumer's perspective, using a search engine for local search is also too complex given the amount of info they need to wade through (which is perhaps why IYPs seem to be more efficient).

I work for a venture-funded startup, Judy's Book, that approaches local search a bit differently. Our belief is that there are three core things consumers want to know when conducting a local search: what businesses are out there, where are they located, and are they any good?

Our starting point is enabling friends and groups to swap information about local resources. We're doing this not by simply slapping a "review this business" feature onto a directory, but by carefully weaving together a number of different mechanisms for establishing a true sense of community and trust. This benefits consumers because it helps them more efficiently locate good businesses. It helps small businesses because it offers them a very simple value proposition that they understand: building a better relationship with customers whose positive word-of-mouth already drives so much of their business. We feel it's this simplicity that will finally encourage small local businesses to make the leap online.

Liesel Pollvogt, Judy's Book,

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