Citysearch pulls a total overhaul

The IAC-owned business reviews site has revamped its product to make social-networking features easier to use, as well as to focus on the "hyperlocal" rather than a few metro areas.

Citysearch is still ahead, butupstart rival Yelp is catching up. Good thing Citysearch has brought in some much-needed new social features. Compete.com

Citysearch, the online business directory owned by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp, has gotten a full makeover. It's available now at beta.citysearch.com--there's a more streamlined and Ajax-y interface, but a few important features have been tweaked as well. According to company representatives, this is about a year and a half in the making.

First of all, instead of focusing on a select number of metro areas, Citysearch has expanded to a whopping 75,000 towns and neighborhoods, meaning that you can narrow down your focus to New York's East Village or Los Angeles' Culver City. Additionally, there's Facebook Connect integration , meaning that you can see what your Facebook friends have recommended or reviewed on Citysearch. Also on the social side of things, reviewing businesses on Citysearch is easier and more up-front. Previously, there had been more attention on editorial reviews as opposed to user reviews.

And Facebook approves, apparently. "At Facebook, we've found that remarkable things happen when you get trust, user control and identity right--people share more information, and become more open and connected," Facebook communications czar Elliot Schrage said in a joint release. "Citysearch's innovative new site shows how Facebook Connect can help information flow faster through a site while creating a filter for users to engage with localized content through the lens of their friends, family and colleagues."

That's a big deal for Citysearch: fast-growing start-up Yelp has started to gain some market share in the "user-generated reviews" department. According to traffic firm Compete.com, Yelp is still smaller but catching up. (Citysearch, for that matter, syndicates some of its content to big portals like AOL.)

Finally, Citysearch has launched a mobile site compatible with a number of different browsers and handsets--yes, including Apple's iPhone.

 

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