Human-driven Q&A search service ChaCha launched some new functionality this week for local businesses. Now users can access information about over 15 million businesses in the U.S., courtesy of partner Localeze.ChaCha spoke with WebProNews about why the company considers itself a legitimate contender in the ever-growing local search space.
"Across all platforms - mobile (SMS), online and now Facebook - we are up to nearly 20 million unique users per month," a ChaCha representative tells us. "Our run rate over the past several months has [averaged] 15 million uniques per month. The user base is split almost half male, half female - with over 80% of users between ages 13 and 24. We also answer over 1 million questions per day, and over 400 million answers have been served."
With an ever-increasing number of ways to access local business information, one might wonder what ChaCha brings to the table that can't be found from other existing sources.
"Unique User benefits on ChaCha were the deeper questions, answers and info about the businesses, and in the future, the ability to get mobile coupons, join a businesses mobile lists, get discounts and more," she says. "These are the ChaCha value-adds over other sources, and features and content will continue to expand."
"We will be providing means for businesses to not only upgrade listings to add mobile and online coupons, but to add and edit top questions about their businesses - for example, say it is a Sushi place and a business wants to state the most popular item...they could provide that as one of their key questions and answers," she adds. "They will also be able to add mobile text-based loyalty lists where users can get updates, news and special from that business on their mobile phones."
February isn't even over yet, and already 2010 has been a big year for local search. A lot of that has come from search giant Google, which could make for tough competition for anyone. Google has, for example, started showing mobile users "nearby places", allowing businesses to post announcements/coupons on their Place Pages, while also showing reviews from more sources, tailoring mobile search suggestions to location, and even suggesting competitors for local business searches.
Other sites and apps are taking advantage of consumer location-sharing, making local search more real-time in some ways. ChaCha has a lot to contend with, but clearly the company is confident it can compete as a go-to place for local business search. The company plans to expand on its local business features in he coming months.
Would you use a Q&A service to find local businesses? Comment here.