Preview: Conversations With Local Search Start-Ups

This week, I’ve had the chance to talk to a handful of local search start-ups. It is interesting to get a glimpse of products in development, and telling of the many angles there are to attack this important space.

Yesterday, I had the chance to talk to stealth mode local search start-up Palore. There is a great deal about the company that I can’t talk about yet but, generally speaking, it provides a browser add-on that enhances local search results of major search players. This involves overlays to search engine result pages, including icons and Ajax-based windows, which present and format local data in a more intuitive way. There is also the ability to personalize search results, in line with a visible trend toward personalization.

Many are predicting this to be the “year of the widget” with various products coming out that simplify or enhance online experiences. I’m lukewarm on this prediction, but there are lots of interesting products coming out that enhance the local search experience by bringing simple tools to the browser or desktop (see previous post on vFlyer). Palore’s product isn’t exactly a widget, but it’s conceptually very similar. I’ll provide more info on the company closer to the product’s launch, including comments from CEO Hanan Lifshitz. In the meantime, check out the quick demo on its Web site.

I also spoke with a developing free DA product called GoUAskMe, which differentiates itself from typical DA calls with extra bits of information such as prices. This involves partnering with best-of-breed content providers in a few different categories (Zillow for home valuations. Traffic.com for traffic reports, etc.) and serving it up through a voice interface. I also spoke with Mini Cities, which has an interesting approach to attack a hyper-local destination strategy, where some have faltered.

And finally, next week I’m scheduled to speak with a new legal search provider, Avvo. The Seattle-based company will join companies like FindLaw to compete in a traditionally strong print Yellow Pages category.

Stay tuned for more writeups of all these conversations.

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