Yahoo!'s "FUSE" (Find, Use, Share, Expand) strategy is more apparent in what might be called Yahoo! Local 2.0. The newly launched site, which I was fortunate to preview during a hectic SES conference, combines an impressive and rich array of elements:
- Dynamic mapping
- User-generated content (reviews + popularity)
- Personalization (search history + Amazon-style recommendations)
- Neighborhood-level detail
- Search and browse navigation
- RSS delivery of local content to My Yahoo!
There are many companies doing impressive things in local — the apps are getting better and better. (I'll do a more complete overview and review of the product later;, there's a lot to talk about). But for now I would say that in an increasingly competitive local space, the new Yahoo! Local is probably the most comprehensive and integrated of the current range of commercial offerings. (Local community sites such as the Berkeley Parents Network, which has been a model for a couple of commercial social networking sites, are in a different category.)
It combines structured and unstructured data with lots of user tools (i.e., refinement/sort features) and rich content to help consumers get to where they want to go and make decisions along the way.
This is a radical change from 18 months ago, when we held our inaugural "Digital Directories & Interactive Local Media Summit." At that time, apps such as the new Yahoo! Local (and many of the other products now rolling out) were purely speculative and we were talking about "the chicken and egg problem" of local search — were there enough consumers that would show up to motivate the content creation (commercial and non-commercial) to keep them coming back?
I think that discussion is now over.
Some interesting and thoughtful remarks from John Battelle especially about the participatory/social dimension of the product, which is what ultimately differentiates it from other offerings out there.
Nice piece by LocalLaunch's Justin Sanger on the role of community or social networking in local search.