Recently, TopTechNews.com, which covers news and product reviews in the tech industry, featured an interesting story about online platforms that have introduced new features to connect customers to home services and local businesses.
One of the new ones is Facebook’s Services page, which “takes on Web-based service veterans such as Angie’s List, TaskRabbit and Yelp,” Top Tech News wrote.
The December story also noted recent steps by Google and Amazon to target the local business market. “This summer, Google began serving up information about pre-screened local businesses when users typed in queries for such phrases as ‘how to fix a clogged kitchen drain.’ And Amazon launched its new Home Services marketplace in March,” the story says.
Curious about how these sites work and how they promote local businesses, I took the three platforms for a test drive.
I Googled “Facebook services” and landed on a Facebook page featuring a photo of the Charlotte skyline and Marshall Park, and “Charlotte, North Carolina” already filled into a search prompt. Another prompt offers search suggestions: “Ex: Plumbers, Photographers.”
Other suggested categories displayed on the page were event planning, pet service, medical and health, and others.
Searching plumbers, I got a list entitled “Best Plumbers in Charlotte.” It includes several local businesses with five-star reviews from customers posted via Facebook. “I found Charlotte Mechanical to be a Sincere, Honest & Professional Company, which is truly hard to find these days,” reads one.
Since services categories are preset, the search button becomes disabled if you don’t stick with suggested listings. So I couldn’t look for “natural hair salons” or “black hair salons,” but I could search “hair salons.” This lack of specificity yielded too much information.
I tried the “how to fix a clogged kitchen drain” search as suggested in the Top Tech News article, but received general how-to information as the top response. To find local businesses, I searched “Charlotte plumbers” instead, which took me to a page that listed three local businesses with ads as the top responses, then two places with five-star ratings, and one business with 4.5 stars.
A search for “Charlotte natural hair salons” didn’t generate a local business as the top response, but rather a website’s 2009 post of its top ten places.
Amazon Home Services Marketplace
Searching this phrase took me to an Amazon page with several categories, including plumbing, electrical, painting and moving.
I clicked plumbing and landed on a site listing nine pages of related services, like “faucet installation” near ZIP 28201. There were nine pages of these services, and each with about 24 categories.
Overwhelmed by all the pages, I didn’t scroll through them all, and clicked on that faucet installation listing. That took me to Bliss Plumbing, with five positive reviews. “Joel called to confirm the appointment, arrived on time and completed the job quickly and effectively...Very professional,” reads one.
But in order to learn more about this Huntersville-based company and owner Joel Bliss, I had to leave the Amazon page – and head back over to Google to pull up a link from Angie’s List.