CitySearch To Increase Mobile And Social Features

    November 19, 2008

citysearchLocal review site Citysearch has announced an overhaul to its mobile and web sites. Now in beta, Mobile by Citysearch adds enhanced features for mobile users, and the new website integrates more local and social aspects.

Mobile and local have always been a good match, but the implementation of this natural pairing hasn’t fully “arrived.” Mobile by Citysearch, however, is a good step along that path. The new site is designed to be compatible with whatever mobile device you use, including content layout and using your phone’s default navigation (thumbwheel, touch screen, etc.) for a more intuitive UI.

Citysearch has long been available through mobile phones—two years ago, they added mobile search to their site as well as local business listings via text message.

Rather than just making the website readable on a mobile phone, however, the new Mobile by Citysearch better integrates mobile and local. Its new design makes reading and even creating reviews from a mobile device easy and makes popular website features mobile-friendly. The new mobile Citysearch is also integrated with text messaging, allowing users to text reviews, directions and ratings directly to mobile phones.

The Citysearch website has also been redesigned. New features enhance not only the interface but the access to the site’s reviews and other information. But the new site is more than just prettier. An enhanced back end allows for even more focused local searches—down to the neighborhood level, instead of just the metro area.

citysearch integrates with facebook connectThe new Citysearch also integrates social media better—including the seldom-mentioned Open ID rival, Facebook Connect. The integration with Facebook is one of the best applications of social search so far. If you’re signed in to Facebook (currently or using a permanent session), Citysearch will highlight your friends’ reviews of local restaurants. (Image from Read Write Web.)

Finally, the new Citysearch is sure score points with local business owners—it prominently features owner comments alongside editor and user comments. It also is added enhanced features for videos of local businesses through a partnership with Brightcove.

Users will be able to upload their own photos and videos early next year.

This redesign comes just a few days after some bad press for Yelp, a rival local review site. Yelp is alleged to have offered to remove or move down negative reviews of local businesses for a fee (and there’s even some allegations they took the money without actually moving the reviews, doubly unethical).

Yelp has been gaining momentum against Citysearch’s popularity recently, but Citysearch’s new features and Yelp’s bad press might combine to reverse that. What do you think—are the new features cool enough to get your “vote” (traffic)?