Love them or hate them – local review sites such as Qype.com, Welovelocal.com, Trustedplaces.com and recent entrant Tipped.com are growing rapidly and are here to stay in one form or another. Qype.com the market leader in this field in Europe, have more than 1.5 Million unique visitors per month and growing. Google also jumped onto the local review bandwagon but so far have had limited success.
Traditional local directory companies such as ThompsonLocal and Yellow Pages have yet to capitalise on this growing market in web 2.0 The market leader Yell.co.uk & Yellow Pages recently looked into creating a social networking site based around local reviews. They approached the team who created Jobster.com - a social networking site based around job ads. Unfortunately those plans came to nothing and there has been no further news of any developments or partnerships.
What is the attraction of these sites? Well first, it’s the ability to share your experiences of particular places with members of a community. People generally like to impart ‘wisdom’ and in this case ‘experience’ is key. The more you contribute, the more authority you have. On one particular site, a criterion for measuring authority is based upon how many people found your review ‘helpful’ or ‘well written’. Therefore this quality factor dispels the notion that we are only interested in quantity.
A number of these sites are beginning to offer incentives in the form of vouchers, special offers partnerships with loyalty cards such as welovelocal’s recent partnership with Wedge.
User content contribution – can result in good SEO for the site itself but more importantly for businesses that are featured on the site. The more users content generated the more listings picked up by Google’s search results.
However if the site wants to bring businesses on board with a subscription charge, it would need to provide a very high level of search engine optimisation. This would require significantly more than the 1.5 million unique users each month. Perhaps even 10 or 20 times this figure, before businesses can really see the benefits of paying to advertise.