The new, search-centric site came out of beta over the weekend. This is a nice-looking, effective site. (I didn’t say it was perfect. :)) It gives prominence to the search box and all but eliminates browsing and some of the other features that characterized the old homepage. You can see the old site from a link in the center, bottom of the page.
According to the release the new site offers the following capabilities:
- Keyword search box lets users query with multiple keywords, phone numbers and more
- Location search box allows users to search by landmark, region, postal code and more
- “Did you mean?” feature detects and corrects spelling errors that lead to ambiguity
- “Free call” feature instantaneously connects users by phone with queried merchants, using any type of telephone or network
- Tiered rankings help users identify national, regional and local players
The “click to call” feature, which seems headed for near ubiquity in local search/IYP upgrades is apparently only available beside advertisers so it may be a separate upsell (or one slated for the future). All the phone numbers allow for tracking, regardless and PPCall is in the directory’s future (if not in the testing present).
Here’s an example search for “Painters, Toronto.”
The national advertisers have logos, while many of the more local advertisers are listed along with their print display ads. While this practice helps tie together the print and online directories and probably offers some value to selected users, I would expect the print ad graphics to disappear over time.
Far more valuable in my mind are sort/refine capabilities (see left nav) that allow people to drill down on specific areas of interest. Missing are user reviews of local businesses.
Given that there’s less competition in Canada than the US, there’s somewhat less pressure to add this feature. However, Yellow Pages Group is one of the most forward-thinking of the major North American directory publishers and I would expect to see this feature soon.
I know that they’ve also got other interesting things up their sleeves.