Facebook has launched a new Places Directory, which is really an emerging local search site. Right now, it’s more accurately like “guided browsing.” It was first brought to our attention by Matteo Gamba.
The new Places mixes up Graph Search, the Page Locations API and other elements to make the directory a worthy supplement for some of your favorite local search and travel sites. It’s not quite yet a genuine substitute.
This also comes amid a revamping of local business Pages to put reviews front and center.
The new directory invites a Place lookup by city name or other place name. The search box doesn’t respond to all queries and even common local queries. For example, “best sushi London” doesn’t deliver any results. In my tests I also couldn’t look up individual businesses that I knew had Facebook Pages.
Over time this will probably change as Graph Search evolves.
Once in an specific location, users can select from among a list of standard categories: Restaurants, Hotels, Bars, Cafes, Attractions, Arts & Entertainment and others. Each category in turn yields lists of results, which appear to be ranked by ratings and network affinity to the user.
There are also additional social tools in the right margin to further filter results in a category. This filtering is not as “robust,” for example, as on a hotel site that provides a wide range of narrowing options to users.
When users drill down to the level of an individual business location you’re of course showing the business Page, which offers a reviews tab (as in the example above). There star ratings and user comments are visible. Though helpful and valuable, right now this content …read more