I have long maintained that Facebook would have difficulty converting SMB Page owners into advertisers until it was able to deliver a real local search experience. Until yesterday Facebook didn’t have one.
Users could search for individual businesses by name. And Facebook had a version of a city guide (Places Directory) that it didn’t heavily promote, which was kind of like guided browsing. But now it has a real local search site.
I was made aware of this today but people apparently spotted it yesterday. The launch of this site is significant but in no way a “Yelp killer.” That’s because the user experience is OK but not great. And there’s no app-manifestation of this as far as I’m able to determine. However users can access this content on the mobile web.
Most of the action and lookups here will be via mobile devices; so I would expect Facebook to develop either a stand-alone app or to integrate this capability into Facebook’s main app ultimately. What’s interesting is that you can’t get these same results from the main Facebook search box. There’s a separate “what, where” box that shows up under the url: Facbook.com/services.
This is a big, inevitable step for Facebook and a critical one if the site is to covert more of its 45+ million SMB Page owners into advertisers.