Yahoo is testing a new version of Yahoo Local featuring "rich hyper-local content" in limited beta. Promising a truly personalized experience in announcing the beta, Yahoo hopes this service will help users discover and contribute to local news, deals, and events in their neighborhood.
The new look site offers links to Top Picks, News, Things to Do, and Deals, highlights the weather, and also urges users to contribute content to the Yahoo Contributor Network by adding an event or posts (news/reviews). It almost resembles Twitter, giving you the option to load more items at the bottom of the page rather than load a second page.
The new layout has a more modern feel, and is a big change from the old cluttered appearance that offered rotating content (Most Popular, Events, Maps, Buzz), and emphasized browsing by category and recent reviews, as seen here:
Search Local for... No More?
One missing element is the ability to search the local site for businesses and services. If you want to search for a restaurant, for example, you'll have to go up to the main search box, type in [restaurant] and select the Local search modifier, which takes you to the current Yahoo Local layout.
Haven't spotted any advertising yet, but Yahoo apparently has big plans for the new Local.
"We are fundamentally changing how users will interact with local content, including advertising. As we build out the experience, we're exploring and experimenting with various advertising solutions that will enable our advertising partners to reach their target users," according to Matt Idema, VP, Yahoo Local.
Yahoo is aggregating news from community members, local publishers (blogs, newspapers, local TV channels), and Yahoo News. You have the option of viewing by most recent or most interesting, though it isn't clear how Yahoo determines what is most interesting. Yahoo said they "identify and geo-tag every news story that appears on every page down to the neighborhood level."
Things to Do
This is basically a calendar you can sorted by date, most interesting, and distance. Individuals or organizations can share information about local events here.
Last month, Yahoo launched Local Offers, a program that provides local deals, coupons, and other offers from spas, restaurants, retailers, etc. Yahoo has partnererd with Groupon, LivingSocial, Gilt City, BloomSpot, BuyWithMe, DealOn, Zozi, CrowdSavings, Lifebooker, FreshGuide, Scoop St, Goldstar, HomeRun, Tippr, Coupons.com, and Valpak. Yahoo lets you sort these offers by time left, most interesting, and distance.
Yahoo said the new Local will expand to more cities in coming weeks and add features based on feedback. The beta is available now in nine cities: Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Sunnyvale (California); Birmingham, Ferndale, and Royal Oak (Michigan); and Brooklyn (New York).
It is also accessible on iPhone and Android devices by directing your mobile browser to http://beta.local.yahoo.com.