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Friday, March 04, 2005

ReviewCrawler

Greg Linden makes the excellent point that in Google's newly-beefed up local search offering, restaurant reviews are listed if available from extant sources. This seems to be an example of "fair play," whereby Google happily sends traffic off to other places without trying to monetize every click. It adds to the credibility of Google Local as a clearinghouse for available information rather than being solely a paid directory. (It is worth noting that on the example I clicked on, a Frommer's review of Susur Lee's restaurant in Toronto, the site is an AdSense publisher, so Google isn't hurting for monetization even when it sends users away.)

Players like Yahoo and CitySearch also offer restaurant reviews. With these, users can directly add reviews.

Both approaches seem sensible, but Google's approach seems to lean more towards traditional editorial sources, whereas the others are untrained (but very genuine) impressions from real diners. I don't know exactly which approach works for me. I tend to find that some direct posts are quite misleading. Either way, the added context is going to make the local search experience richer and more usable than ever, because it will mean less "hunting around."

Just another great example of how metasearch can and will evolve to delight users.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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