About Pays $33m for Another Review Site

aboutlogo.gifThe New York Times Company’s About.com continues along the acquisition path. For $33 million, the firm has snapped up ConsumerSearch.com, a company that hires freelance writers to distill user reviews to determine the most recommended products and write catch-all reviews.

For instance, the site recommends Webroot’s Spy Sweeper as the best anti-spyware software overall since it’s “considered the best all-around anti-spyware program in the greatest number of reviews because of its high detection rates and superior ease of use.” It also says Kayak.com is the best travel search engine.

First off, maybe I’m clueless, but $33 million sounds a bit high to me. I’ve honestly never heard of ConsumerSearch and don’t think I’ve ever stumbled across it in the countless searches I’ve done when conducting product research. The firm has six employees including the founder.

Though it seems like a very helpful site and I’ll try to remember to check it out in the future, at this point I’m not so sure how well optimized for search it is. For instance, a Google search on “travel sites” doesn’t turn up the site in the first page of organic or paid results. A search for “travel site reviews” only shows it as a sponsored link on the first page of results. The site fared better when it came to “mountain bike reviews,” which turned up a link in the fourth spot in the organic listings.

I see ad network-served ads on the ConsumerSearch site, but it doesn’t seem to have any ads sold direct, which means there probably are few relationships with advertisers. Still, you never know what the valuation was based on. The site’s content and meta-review process is something that could fit in very nicely at About, and possibly other New York Times properties. About in April bought health ratings and info site UCompareHealthCare.com.

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