Local Business Search 2.0

By: Marshall Tallman

The web-world of small business has a handful of very valuable solutions for businesses and consumers alike. The internet has provided many opportunities for local businesses of all types to enhance their business through use of the internet. Businesses of all types us the internet to find customers and make them happy. This article is designed to research some of the ways that small businesses may use existing applications on the internet to enhance their business.
Old fashioned local business directories, or Yellow Pages, were the first websites designed to utilize the internet to improve local business. The internet provided a platform for these local business directories to improve their local search with a keyword search feature, faster search times, and easier directions than traditional paper directories. Since the web has grown, a handful of new websites have emerged that improve the way that people and small businesses interact online.
This article will briefly explore some sites that provide a new-valuable way for local businesses and their customers to interact. Various yellow page websites are the most popular way to find local businesses online; however, this article is designed to explore other websites that people are using to find and support local business.

1. - The general public has fallen in love with this free classifieds website. Craigslist provides a great medium for buying, selling, finding jobs, and even finding dates in a local geographic communities. Craigslist receives millions of visits every day and provides its service free of charge, other than posts for employer job openings. A section on Cragslist is dedicated to 'Services' and many small and home based businesses use this to promote their business. Users are allowed to post information promoting their business once every 48 hours, although many businesses find ways to repost within this timeframe. The postings will stay online for up to 7 days, but they get the most attention when they are at the top of the list or right after they are posted. The main benefit of Craigslist is how quickly people can reach a number of interested consumers in their area. Some shortcomings of Craigslist are that business listings expire, and to reach customers businesses must re-list several times a day to generate more sales leads.

Also, there is no quality assurance with Craigslist. There is no easy way to check the legitimacy or quality of the businesses that are listed on Craigslist.
2. - MoreWorld takes great web 2.0 technology and delivers it to small businesses, home based businesses, and their customers in an attractive and easy to use package. Businesses enjoy free registration and highly customizable company accounts. This includes a free business website, a complete menu of products and services and free inclusion in MoreWorld's local search. Businesses may even use MoreWorld to manage a list of their customers and employees and send out group emails. MoreWorld also provides a comprehensive local search for companies, products and services. Users can also browse companies by category. Search results provide pricing details and customer feedback information. The most exciting part is that when a user views more details on a company, they get far more information than is available in traditional yellow pages. They get a detailed description of the company by the company, including a detailed description of the company's products, services and prices. The greatest drawback to MoreWorld is that they only have information on company's who have registered with the site.
3. - Yelp has found success by integrating social networking with a site designed for rating local businesses. Yelp provides a fun, easy and addictive platform for users to create and submit reviews on many types of local businesses. Further, all of the services available on Yelp are free, other than the sponsored search results for businesses. Users interested in finding a product or service may search or browse listings by distance and star rating as well as several other search areas. The website also provides a forum for users to discuss local businesses, events and other things in their area. All of the information on this site is managed and updated by Yelp users. All reviews and information change requests require the approval of a moderator to avoid biased reviews and misinformation. Yelp provides a great way to find detailed reviews on local businesses. The main drawbacks on yelp are the reliability of reviews and the lack of any business side interface. Also check out insiderpages.com for another great site based on user reviews.
4.servicemagic.com - ServiceMagic delivers an interesting new approach to the local business front. ServiceMagic provides an attractive and easy to use platform that helps connect consumers to the contractor for their job. Service magic has a simple project description form for people to complete. Once the form is submitted, ServiceMagic matches them with a handful of qualified contractors, and the communications begin. Users may read ratings on different service providers as well as a detailed description provided by the company on themselves. Users seem very happy with the amount of time ServiceMagic saves them in finding the right business for their job. While ServiceMagic is great for finding a contractor it is limited to the types of businesses it can help you find. Another problem is that businesses must pay to be on service magic, so the best business for a job may not be available to the user because that company is not interested in paying. The final drawback is that there is no search feature for users, causing people to be limited to viewing only the companies that ServiceMagic allows.
5.angieslist.com - Angie's List is another site that aggregates consumer reviews of local businesses, much like Yelp. Angie's List separates itself from other similar sites in that they charge for membership. This includes charging both to see and write reviews. Angie's List prides itself on their level of user participation and the credibility of their information. A major benefit to Angie's list is that companies can't pay to be on the list, they must be reviewed by a member in order to be listed. Major drawbacks to Angie's list are that it is not free and that there is no interface for businesses.

There are many great tools available to small businesses and their customers. Weather you are a business owner trying to attract new customers or a consumer trying to find the a businesses, there are sites out there that can help. With the variety available sites there are options available to meet the varying needs and preferences of different businesses and individuals.

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