Facebook is testing out a new, unannounced tool that allows you to search for all kinds of services in your area. Can Facebook finally kill Yelp?
For all its foibles, Yelp has for years remained the defacto source of information about everything from where to go to dinner to where to get your hair done. Amazingly, much larger technology super-powers haven’t managed to kill it. Google’s been slowly ramping up its local search, but at least anecdotally, people still rely on Yelp for a bulk of their “Where should I...” queries.
It’s about time Facebook got into the mix, no? With the Services portal, newly uncovered by the sleuths at Search Engine Land, Facebook appears to be gearing up to get into the recommendations business in a bigger way.
The desktop-only service is a fairly barebones location-based search at this time. The main portal has a listing of about a hundred business types you might ordinarily need to look up: Need a DJ for a party? Need an accountant to help you with taxes? You can also search for business types, but Facebook’s directory is hardly an exhaustive listing of possibilities—I currently need help with shoe repair, and that’s not an available category. As you’d expect, once you search, you’re transported to a results page with reviews and ratings.
Again, this obviously isn’t a fully-deployed service at this time, but the potential to link you to recommendations from people you actually know is great. You see, no matter how many people are on Yelp, 99 percent of the time you’re following recommendations from people you don’t know. By linking recommendations with your contacts list, you get a meaningful piece of context. It’s potentially an enlightening tool! Assuming your Facebook friends actually write reviews.
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