Useful local search sites, Boorah and SuggestLocal

Updated

Boorah and SuggestLocal are two new useful local search sites worth a look.

Boorah provides a clean, elegant search for restaurants by city, ranking them by the quality of reviews and other mentions they get from around the web. SuggestLocal, meanwhile, provides a useful engine to find pretty much any type of vendor, with a way to easily send it to your friends, along with notations, map, nearby parking and other information.At a time when local search is crowded with competitors, you’d better pick something precise and do it well. Both of these companies try to do that.

Boorah launched its restaurant search for three cities — San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York — at DEMO07 in late January. This summer, the service will be rolled out to other “NFL cities,” the company says.

Its value is in aggregating reviews from around the Web all in one place. It draws reviews from CitySearch, Yelp, Yahoo, blogs and anywhere else it find mentions of a restaurant. It uses natural language technology to assess the sentiment of those reviews. It then creates a rating, based on five stars. It also tallies up the overall number of mentions, to create a ‘Buzz’ rating. You can also search for a type of restaurant (Pizza, Chinese, Mexican), and Boorah ranks these so you can choose the best. Each restaurant has a profile with more rankings on food, ambiance and service.

Click on Boorah’s “smart search” button, and it lets you search for things like “Best Wine List”, or “Romantic Place,” all this made possible by its in-house natural language technology.

They have 75,000 restaurant listings and more than 200,000 reviews. They plan to make money from advertising and from revenue sharing from bookings through OpenTable. They also seek to syndicate the content. The site has been built on less than $500,000 of angel funding.

[Update: Well, Yelp reviews used to be there. We've just learned that Yelp demanded that Boorah remove Yelp reviews, which makes Boorah slightly less compelling -- because it can't say that it aggregates everything. But don't Boorah's brief review intros easily within "fair use"? Boorah's founder, Eric Moyer, tells us he didn't fight the Yelp request, because Boorah is a small company. We asked Yelp about fair use, and a spokeswoman responded that Yelp is "not able to comment on the fair use question at this time." Boorah is negotiating with one other provider of reviews, but did not say who it is.]

SuggestLocal logoSuggestLocal is useful for searching for restaurants, cafes, parking and other things by city or zip code. It ranks results with Yahoo ratings. The site’s value comes from a box it provides within the same page, better known as a widget, that lets you send your chosen listing to your friends — letting you append information like local parking, map and a personal note. It’s good for organizing events — and so is competitive with other event messaging sites such as Renkoo. See image below.

Notably, SuggestLocal doesn’t intend to rely on traffic to its site. It seeks to partner with newspapers and magazines. On a partner’s web site, you’ll be able click on the SuggestLocal icon next to say, a real estate listing, and then be able to send the listing to your friends so you can get help making a purchasing decision. Along with it, you can send a message, map and other information found with SuggestLocal.

The company’s main source of making money will based on what you could call “Click Per Discussion,” or CPD. Every time someone clicks on the SuggestLocal icon next to a particular listing, the partner site pays SuggestLocal a contracted amount per click. The other way to make money will be targeted ads that drop into the widget window.

See their demo here. It is mainly self-funded, but has just under $300,000 in angel funding.

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