by Greg Sterling
Foursquare is introducing what it calls “personalized search for the real world” on its recently redesigned website. What that means as a practical matter is the introduction of the “Explore” feature, better keyword search and several new filters that enable users to drill down in search results. We can now, without hesitation, now call Foursquare a “local search engine.”
You’ll now see an Explore button or tab in the upper right on the website. It’s obviously been on the mobile app for some time but not on the site until today. Because I was so used to seeing Explore on the mobile client I didn’t remember it wasn’t previously available on the website until Foursquare pointed that fact out.
Users can now search on categories or business names. You can also browse categories.
Where Foursquare’s new search capability shines, however, is on highly specific queries. Foursquare told me that all the “Tips” content is now searchable, so obscure or very specific information can be discovered in results.
Below is the result of a (not so obscure) search for “fish tacos” in New York. I get to see the full set of results from Foursquare users who’ve talked about places with fish tacos.
Yet I can also drill down on these places with four filters:
- “I haven’t been to yet”
- “I have been to before”
- “My friends have been to”
- “Have Foursquare specials”
The filters enable users to see only those results that, for example, have Foursquare specials or where my Foursquare contacts have gone before. The value and benefits of these filters are self-evident. Foursquare said it may add other filters over time after it sees how users interact with these.
The existence of the new Explore filters and features will engage users and reward them for greater participation. Where badges created an incentive system for some people to use Foursquare in the past, these search-related tools offer a new set of practical incentives for people to use Foursquare and benefit from increased participation.
As I’ve said in the past, I’m very impressed by the way that Foursquare has evolved and transformed itself from a geeky “game” into a much more mainstream product — and now local search utility.
About The Author: Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling. See more articles by Greg Sterling