Have you ever tried to find real reviews of local businesses online and had no luck?
Or have you ever looked for information about local businesses only to find out-dated telephone directory style listings? Why go online if you can find the same information in the telephone book in your house? When you want to find a business that has been reviewed by actual consumers, your peers, there are web sites that you can visit.
Many of these sites have a long way to go to be useful to the general populous. Most suffer from city-centrism. They all focus on the big cities, and forget about smaller cities and towns.
Other local business review web sites listed here are more like empty shells waiting to be filled. The bones and structure are there, with telephone style directory listings, but the breath and lifeblood is missing: real reviews by real people.
Top Web Sites for Local Business Reviews
Web Site address: www.insiderpages.com
Tagline: None, only this descriptor: “Find businesses, share your opinions and ask questions in your local community.”
Reality: The site does what it claims.
Insider Pages is the most “local” of all the current local business review sites. Search results can be sorted by “Highest rated first,” which is useful for anyone who is actually seeking a service. Another interesting search criteria is “Most reviewed first,” which lets you see the most popular local business that provides a specific service.
Review results on Insider Pages can also be sorted by distance.
Insider Pages should re-do their lay out. Their Google ads look too similar to the reviews listings, and detract from the effectiveness of the sites. The prominent font on the Google ads takes away from the authority of the consumer reviews.
Web Site address: www.zipingo.com
Tagline: “Local Voices, Smart Choices”
Reality: “No Voices, The Usual Choices”
Zipingo has the same business model as Insider Pages. Their mission is to provide objective and real opinions and reviews of local services and small businesses. Zipingo has quite a ways to go, in comparison to Insider Pages.
Sarches on Zipingo may be made with a keyword and a city/state or zip code. Businesses can be sorted by highest and lowest reviews, but that only works when there are actual reviews attached to the listings.Results can also be sorted by distance from the starting location.
Zipingo is a product of Intuit, the financial software company that owns Quicken.
Web Site address: http://trustedplaces.com
Tagline: “Real People, Real Places”
Reality: “Real Cool”
Trusted Places covers London. The reason it’s included here is because it has the best design when compared to the other web sites of local business reviews. Trusted Places is photo-happy and actually makes you want to visit these places, straight away. Trusted Places should be the design model for the other local business review web sites that are still presenting their information like glorified phone books with reviews tucked between the thin pages.
Web Site address: www.measuredup.com
Tagline: “How do you rate?”
Reality: “D. Not enough information to determine the answer.”
Measured Up could be popular if they can get more reviews, localize the information, and organize it better. The current home page ofMeasured Up pretty much measures up the sites: pretty colors, lots of white space.
Measured Up needs a lot more reviews to become a useful site. Their decision to use photos and logos works to their advantage, and design-wise the logos add color. The images also lend some weight and credibility to the site.
Measured Up is attempting to be “national” which is the right idea, but they still need better organization for local reviews.
Some locally-oriented web sites have the right idea, but not the data. If these web sites stick with their current focus, and grow enough to actually cover all areas, not just cities, they will be worth visiting.
Web Site address: www.angieslist.com
Tagline: None, the descriptor reads “Home service contractors reviewed and rated by homeowners like you.”
Reality: True word-of-mouth sites cover all locations, big and small. Angie’s List has a long way to go to grow their data set.
First, Angie’s List needs to re-brand. The name makes Angie’s List sounds like a teenage girls’ list of “Likes and Dislikes.” It kind of is.
Angie’s List is a site to find reviews of local home improvement contractors. While Angie’s List claims to be a “word-of-mouth network for consumers,” it still makes the all-too-common assumption that consumers only live in cities. Angie’s List is the only fee-based business review web site on this list.
The winner of the top Web 2.0 Web Site on Local Business Reviews is Insider Pages.
When all of these web sites have more complete data sets who will the real winner be? The consumer.