WhitePages.com has given visitors the option to search for local businesses for almost a decade, although it has historically sent those queries to third-party sites. Starting Thursday, it’s taking those listings in-house and adding several features, including a “store locator,” which lets people find branches of national chains in their area.
Since the beta has launched there has been some reason to believe that this is a good thing moving forward
In an interview, Jason Milstead, WhitePage.com’s director of business search, said that the number of business searches on WhitePages.com has risen from about 13 to 14 million a month to more than 16 million a month since WhitePages.com launched a beta of the product in April.
Ok, so you roll out a new internal product and magically your numbers shoot up just because of the sheer awesomeness of the product? Not likely. Being a bit of a usability nut I went to the site to see just what they are doing that might entice a visitor to take this service for a spin. Based on the graphics below that are prominently displayed on the business locator side of the page, I suspect that increase in traffic for the service is more about a lesson in site usability and promotion vs. an incredible new product that visitors decided they just have to use.
WhitePages.com admits that revenue is off from its best days but is trying to see how it can capitalize on the interest in local business listings. It is introducing service to do this and aiming at some big players as competitors.
[Services like] DealPop, which will be able to leverage the traffic that the listings bring to WhitePages.com—giving it an advantage over other daily deal services that have had to spend heavily on advertising in order to bring in users. “Groupon, LivingSocial had to build up that traffic from day one,” (Milstead) says. “They don’t have a business search product they’re integrating with.”
While this is interesting it seems like WhitePages.com is waking up to the fact that while they have a lot of traffic they are not monetizing it as they could. As a result, they are taking an existing feature, bringing it in-house, and looking to capitalize. This is not unlike a lot of web properties who have watched competitors erode once dominant positions by providing more than just information.
It’s hard to say just how much call there is for the many different deliveries of local business information that are all over the web. Consumers usually want a trusted source that doesn’t require a lot of hunting. Gee, sounds a lot like a company out of Mountain View, doesn’t it?