Judy’s Book: Craig’s List meets Zagats meets Orkut

Judy’s Book is a social search tool as well as a web community where users can exchange reviews and recommend local business and places. In 2004, Seth Godin called it “Craig’s List meets Zagats meets Orkut.”

It looks like Judy’s Book is going after households and families, who are the major audience of the site and also where the quality reviews come from. Among those households, Judy’s Book looks especially at moms who are seeking trusted advice on local activities and explore local favorites. As a local business directory, the listings on Judy’s Book are mostly small business; they are the target merchant customers to Judy’s Book. Those small businesses can submit their deals in the web community, and the site will show the store search content in good placements.

I think Judy’s Book has potential in the market of “personalized search results”. With its localized search focus, it enables users to get reviews and recommendations on local store and share places and recommendations in social media such as Pinterest. The reviews and recommendations encompass all aspects of social lives, which include car dealers reviews; dentists and vets recommendations; civic and community libraries; elementary schools, and colleges and universities; art museums and restaurants.

Judy’s Book surely has an advantage in it review quality. It is the first local rating and review site to add Pinterest sharing to its photos. This also serves the local small business good as they can use the reviews to increase their social media presence and get more easily found through SEO. But the business rating and reviews industry is already a red ocean with big players such as Yelp, Urban Spoon, Craiglist and Citysearch, Judy’s Book also face competition from similar startups such as Insider Pages.

To stand out from the competition, and steal customers from those big players, Judy’s Book should go further in personalized search results. Other than just listings, Consumers are now using local search for directions, operating hours, price comparisons and so on. Traditional site listings will have limited market potential despite the large demand for local search; it needs to adapt its search solutions according to consumers’ needs and expectations. Therefore, a mobile strategy will be necessary.

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