Yahoo Local has expanded, with new city and neighborhood pages and an increased display of maps and use of community reviews.
Yahoo features custom pages for major cities throughout the U.S., with areas of those cities broken down into individual neighborhoods. In addition, it covers all U.S. cities and offers information in various ways.
Browse or Search for Info
Let’s start with a major city for a feel of what’s presented, Los Angeles. To reach the page, you need only enter "los angeles" or an LA Zip Code into the Yahoo Local search box.
The main city page offers options to browse local merchant categories just above the map display. You can drill down into specific categories or use the "see all categories" link for further options. Going into any of these areas brings up listings, accompanied by a map on the left side of the screen. Want to see more of the map? Mouse over and it automatically enlarges.
You can also search by keyword. Enter "toys stores" into the search box. The search results offer toy store listings in the Los Angeles area, more or less. I did get some false matches.
Events, Restaurants, and Favorite Places
On the main city page, a map is the central fixture. The LA map has some numbers in colored boxes. Hover your mouse over a number and a box pops up with the company’s name at that address, plus other information. Click the number and you’re taken to Yahoo’s entry page on that company. The numbers correspond to listings below the map: "What’s Happening Locally" events, "Users’ Favorite Restaurants," and "More Local Favorites." Hover over any textual item, and its pop-up box on the map appears.
It’s not clear where the events database comes from (I’m checking), nor is there any way I can find to easily add an event in your area.
Restaurant reviews are easier. When looking at any local restaurant, registered Yahoo users can write a review. The option is to the right of each restaurant listing on Yahoo’s company entry page. Click the star desired to rate it, or write a review following the labeled link. The most recently approved reviews for an area are shown at the top of the list on the city home page.
"More Local Favorites" are listings for a city’s non-restaurant items: schools, places to go, businesses, and so on. If you can find in Yahoo Local, you can rate and review it, as with restaurants. Though you can see a full list of restaurants with reviews, you can’t currently see a full list of "More Local Favorites." That’s something I hope will change.
You can get an RSS (define) feed for new events, restaurant reviews, and favorite places for any city. Just use the links on the left side of the screen.
The pages for major cities also display neighborhood links to the left of the main map. For Los Angeles, you can click to see just the Miracle Mile area. Events, restaurants, and favorite places listings also change to be relevant to that neighborhood.
Only major cities have neighborhoods. Look at the Newport Beach page. Though small, the city has well-defined neighborhoods, such as Balboa and Corona Del Mar. These don’t show up on the city’s main page. Yahoo says it’s considering a way for people in smaller cities to define known neighborhoods.
Traffic and Wi-Fi Maps
The city pages’ central maps can be toggled to show traffic conditions and Wi-Fi (define) hotspots, when available. They aren’t always. Bend, OR, for example, doesn’t have a traffic map but it does have hotspots.
With luck, we’ll get to put even more things on the big map. In particular, it would be great if those who create map mash-ups (define), such as overlaying crime data on a map, could easily get links to their maps from the associated Yahoo Local pages. I’d also like to be able to see my local listings gathered through browsing or keyword searching on the big central map if I wanted.
It’d also be great to be able to overlay multiple search results. Check out this map for Newport Beach made using MSN’s Virtual Earth. There, I can show pizza places, bike rental places, and hotels on the same map -- and add more, if I wanted.
Look below the search box for any city. You’ll see top searches for that locality. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you’ll see your recent searches displayed, along with items you recently reviewed and recommendations of other things to consider.
Near the bottom, you’ll also see a "Tagged Pages" link. Click that, and if anyone’s tagged a page as relevant to that city in My Web 2.0, you’ll see those listings.
Back at the top of the page, below the search box, you’ll also see a weather forecast for the area. If you’ve looked for more than one locality, next to the search box you’ll see a drop-down arrow that lets you easily access previous locations for entry.
"Next Generation of Yahoo Local" on the Yahoo Search Blog gives you a few more details about the service. Especially check out the Yahoo Local Features Page, which is a good illustrated overview of the service.
Overall, Yahoo Local is a slick presentation. There’s lots to check out if you want local information.
If you like the idea of local reviews, check out Citysearch. Restaurant reviews, hotel reviews, events, and more are listed for various localities. You can even get events on a map, but it’s far more work than with Yahoo Local.
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Danny Sullivan left Search Engine Watch as of Dec. 1, 2006.