Facebook is currently testing new local search functionality that could give the giant a huge advantage against the likes of Google, Foursquare and Yelp. You may have seen some of your friends asking for recommendations on the nearest restaurant or for a local plumber but what is this new functionality?
You can now search for recommendations of nearby places. Typing in restaurants in the search bar Facebook gives you the option of ‘restaurants nearby’:
You then get a list of relevant businesses in your area along with ratings, a map and which friends have visited these places.
A spokesperson for Facebook confirmed the feature saying, “We’re testing a new way to discover where to go and what to do around you.”
Although this isn’t immediately noticeable, especially on desktop compared to mobile, it is a really cool feature – giving you much more than the standard business name, phone number, photo information, we’re used to seeing. Facebook displays how many people have rated the business, its star rating, pricing (as measured by one to four pound signs), and whether it is open now.
For me, it’s the desktop version that shines on this feature. It gives the user the flexibility to filter the results – whether your friends have visited, the price range you’re looking for, whether it is open now, or in this example, by cuisine type:
The desktop version also gives more information on each page, including reviews by users and which of your friends like the page.
As well, depending on how the Facebook Page is set up – on desktop, some pages have added call to actions, like book now or call now. This is great to help users looking for local services to get all the information they need quickly to either call or book online:
It’s not clear yet how the rankings work or how long the test has been going, but I can’t wait to see how Facebook evolves with this feature.