Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Mojopages local search goes alpha

February 21, 2007

Mojopages, the local search engine that I had written about in the past, finally launched alpha version of the site over the past weekend. From the initial view, the site looks pretty comprehensive that adds a very strong social networking angle to plain old local search.

Backed by commercial local listings data, Mojopages enables users to rate and write reviews of businesses. Number of interaction points build into the platform gives the site a dynamic feel. Mojopages enables uploading of photos, videos, sending IMs, retrieve coupons, and many more related options. You can easily create social networking site worthy profile, add people to your network, join discussions in the community via QAs and SmallTalk. Best part I like about Mojopages is the emphasis on tracking user activity and contributions to the community. Typical problem reading reviews on a regular site is that you are not really sure whether the review is genuine and trustworthy. At Mojopages you can quickly view all the reviews and ratings given by a particular user besides their activity in community QAs, and Small Talk.

Having said that, I think trying to marry off local search with social networking is tough task. Quite a few have tried the marriage, some have changed directions after not being able to make headway(read Judysbook), some are going down slowly(read CitySearch), and some gaining ground albeit slowly(read Yelp). Would be interesting to see how Mojo plays the game differently and manages to win.

Links:
Mojopages

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Palore provides aggregated business reviews with click-to-call

December 12, 2006

Palore wants to add a new dimension to the way we get our reviews. With most of users trusting Google, Yahoo, and Ask to deliver local search results or flocking to newer local business data providers like Judy’s Book, Yelp, and CitySearch, it makes life difficult for newer startups to differentiate themselves from these existing services. As for the users, they can’t practically be searching for reviews on each of these search engines. Palore has come out with an interesting solution that brings you reviews for a business from multiple sites as soon as you click on the its business phone number located on any web page.

To get started with Palore you will need to register at the site and install the browser plugin which is available for both IE and Firefox. After that whenever you search for business on Google Maps or Yahoo local or Ask local, Palore automatically converts their phone numbers into links. When you click on one of these links, a small bubble opens up displaying the reviews fetched from various sites where people have written about the business. You can quickly browse through all the review snippets in the bubble or go over to the actual site where the review was written. Besides this Palore has also integrated click to call feature that can quickly connect you with the business. This feature is similar to the one provided by on Google Maps and available to users located in US and Israel.

Palore was initially launched in Israel where it claims to have received a good response with over 100000 downloads since it’s launch in April 2006. Recently Palore has started aggregating restaurant reviews in the SFO area and plans to move to NYC, Boston, LA, and Chicago early next year. There are quite a few other interesting features coming up at Palore including integration with OpenTable.com, and Palore ToGo that will provide better exposure and reach for reviews of businesses.

Looking at the number of players we have or coming up in the local search market, aggregated reviews from Palore make perfect sense. As for upcoming sites like Judy’s Book and Yelp, Palore increases the reach for their user generated content. Personally any service that can reduce the number of clicks I need to make and the number of sites I need to visit for the right information, I am in for it.

Links:
Palore

Urbanspoon — restaurant reviews for Seattle

November 1, 2006

Urbanspoon is a new site focusing on providing restaurant reviews in the Seattle area. Founded by Adam and Ethan who had previously worked together at Jobster, Urbanspoon seems to be shaping up well.

At Urbanspoon you can search for restaurants by keyword or browse by Seattle neighborhoods or by the type of food you are interested in. Urbanspoon guys have developed an intuitive interface for viewing, rating and commenting restaurants. Review page for a restaurant shows the rating, location information, food type, pricing, links to menu, reviews by other major publications, comments, restaurant address plotted onto Google Maps, and nearby restaurants. Urbanspoon also enables users to edit restaurant information, which is approved by the Urbanspoon team before it is reflected in the site. Urbanspoon also keeps track of all the restaurants you have reviewed and rated.

It will be too early to comment on the content and amount of data available at Urbanspoon, so I will save my words for a later date. From the interface perspective, I will like to see just a small change from Urbanspoon. While browsing a restaurant category, ratings below 50% are show in green color, while higher ratings are in red. I think it should be the other way round.

Urbanspoon has just started its journey in a market which has lot of established players like Judy’s Book and Yelp, who also cover restaurants among other things. Urbanspoon does seems to have bigger plans than being just focused on Seattle. Looking at the URL for Urbanspoon http://www.urbanspoon.com/c/Seattle.html, it is clearly evident that Urbanspoon will be adding more cities at a later stage.

Related:
Deals at Judy’s Book Launched

Links:
Urbanspoon

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Deals at Judy’s Book Launched

September 29, 2006

Judy's Book Deals

Judy’s Book is moving aggressively to gain ground in the local business review and search. At the start of this month Judy’s Book added ‘Deals’ feature which will provide users with deals and coupons from the places they shop both online and in their neighborhood. The ‘Deals’ feature will contain current deals and discounts submitted by users as well as various brands.

Judy’s Book (JB), located in Seattle, WA, was launched in 2004 and is lead by Andy Sack. JB is a well funded company whose investors include Mobius Venture Capital, Ignition Partners, Ackerley Partners, and few angel investors.

JB team is putting in lot of effort to distinguish itself from other deal and review sites. JB deals can be created by the users who also have option to add photos and tags to the deal. JB deals can be voted and commented on by the users which will make sure only the best deals reach the top. JB team is also putting in lot of effort to keep the content fresh and clean. They have a team of deal editors who check for genuine and accurate deals. To find deals for a particular product, users can either search for deals or browse JB or use tags. Users can also subscribe to alerts to get updated on new deals. JB provides browser toolbars which show users the top deals available for any site they visit. Users can also post deals back to JB using the toolbar.

To attract and engage users, JB has setup profit sharing where it will provide commissions to the users who enhance a commissionable deal (a deal that Judy’s Book gets paid on). JB is also launching ‘Expert Shopper’ feature next Tuesday, which is supposed to make shopping easier for the customer. ‘Expert Shopper’ will be a platform where customers can seek help from fellow expert shoppers for finding the right item and for the right price. Besides this, JB has also setup partnership with Valpak recently to distribute their local coupons on judysbook.com.

Couple of issues I noticed includes no option to associate a zip code or state with a deal, which makes it hard to locate local coupons easily. Also as JB tries to offer user rated deals, it should have proper measures in place to prevent hijacking of site by few users or its editorial staff overreacting to certain user activities.

JB surely would have done its calculations but I am bit skeptical about maintaining deal editors team. They better outsource that task or use Amazon Mechanical Turk to lower their risk. I am pretty sure Google won’t do this way.

JB has done great work in identifying the right mix of features from digg, fatwallet (or other deal sites) and its expertise of local business search and reviews. By combining local business search with local/national deals JB can add real value to the site. This area is not without tough competition though and comes at a time when Google has announced that it will also be offering coupons when users search for businesses on Google Maps.

Links:
Deals at Judy’s Book
Judy’s Book

Judy's Book Deals
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