Yahoo Local has expanded with new city and neighborhood pages, along with increased display of maps and use of community reviews.
Yahoo features custom pages for major cities throughout the US, as listed here, with areas of those cities broken down into individual neighborhoods. In addition, it has coverage of all cities throughout the US offering information in various ways.
Browse Or Search For Info
Let's start off with a major city for a feel of what's presented, in this case, Los Angeles. To reach the page, you need only enter the city name los angeles into the Yahoo Local "location" search box. An LA ZIP code would also work.
When the page appears, you'll see options to browse categories of local merchant just above the map display. You can drill down into local auto dealers, florists or use the "see all categories" link for further options. Going into any of these areas will bring up listings, accompanied by a map on the left-hand side of the screen. Want to see more of the map? Move your mouse over it, and it automatically enlarges.
Rather than browse, you can also keyword search. For example, toys stores entered into the "search for" box brings back toy store listings around the Los Angeles area, more or less. Some false matches did come up for me.
Events, Restaurants & Favorite Places
Back to the main city page, you'll see a map as the central fixture there. Shown on it for LA are "What's Happening Locally" events, "Users' Favorite Restaurants" and "More Local Favorites." Look below the map, and you'll see these items also shown textually in columns. Hover with your mouse over any textual item, and you'll also see more info about it "light up" on the map.
It's not clear where exactly the events database is coming from -- I'm checking on this -- nor is there any way I can see to easily add an event for your area.
In contrast, the restaurant reviews are easier. When looking at any local restaurant, registered Yahoo Local users have the option to write a review. You'll see this option to the right of each restaurant listing -- use the "Write a review" or "Rate it" links. The most recent approved reviews for an area are shown at the top of the list on the city home page.
More Local Favorites is a way to review any non-restaurant item for a city -- schools, places to go, businesses and so on. If you can find in Yahoo Local, then as with restaurants, you can rate and review it using links to the side of a listing. Unfortunately, while you can see a full list of restaurants with reviews, you currently don't appear to be able to see a full list of all "Local Favorites," something I hope will change.
By the way, you can get an RSS feed for any new events, restaurant reviews and favorite places for any city. Just use the links along the left-hand side of the screen.
The pages for major cities also show "neighborhood" links to the left of the main map. So for Los Angeles, you can click to see just the Miracle Mile area. Do that, and the events, restaurants and favorite places listings also change to be relevant to that neighborhood.
Only major cities have neighborhoods, however. For instance, look at the Newport Beach page. Though small, that city has well defined neighborhoods of its own, such as Balboa and Corona Del Mar. These unfortunately don't show up. Yahoo says it is considering a way for people in smaller cities to be able to define known neighborhoods.
Traffic & Wi-Fi Maps
The central maps in the city pages can be toggled to show you traffic conditions and wi-fi hotspots, which is pretty nice, when these are available. They aren't always. Bend, Oregon, for example, doesn't have a traffic map but does have hotspots.
Hopefully, we'll see even more ability to put things on the big map. In particular, it would be great if those who create map mashups, such as overlaying crime data on a map, would be able to easily get links to their maps associated with the Yahoo Local page. I'd also like to be able to see my local listings gathered through browsing or keyword searching on the big central map, if I wanted.
It would also be great to be able to overlay multiple search results. For example, check out this map for Newport Beach made using MSN's Virtual Earth. There, I'm able to show pizza places, bike rental places and hotels all on the same map -- and I could add more, if I wanted.
Look below the search box for any city, and you'll see top searches for that locality are shown. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and you'll see your recent searches displayed, along with items you recently reviewed and recommendations of other things to consider.
Look near the bottom, and you'll also see a Tagged Pages link. Click on that, and if anyone has tagged a page as relevant to that city in My Web 2.0, you'll see those listings.
Back at the top of the page, below the search box, you'll also see a weather forecast for the area. Next to the search box, if you've looked for more than one locality, check out the little drop-down arrow which lets you easily access previous locations for entry.
Next Generation of Yahoo! Local on the Yahoo Search Blog gives you a few more details about the service, and especially check out the Yahoo Local Features Page, which is a nice illustrated overview of the service.
Overall, it's a nice, slick, polished presentation. There's lots to like and check out if you're looking for local information, so it's highly recommended to check out the service if you've yet to pay it a visit.
Chris Sherman's currently away on vacation and will likely review and contrast to other service when he gets back, as he tends to watch the local search space more for Search Engine Watch. However, if you like the idea of local reviews, you might also check out Citysearch. Restaurant reviews, hotel reviews, events and more are all listed for various localities. You can even get events on a map, as like this for LA, but it's far more work than with Yahoo Local.