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How to Build a Local Search and Review App: Types and Feature Set

As the research in 2017 claims, more than half of the respondents interviewed visit the place found through the local search app almost immediately (or during a short time period). In other words, these users can easily be converted into real customers. That’s why the search nearby feature is in high demand among  both ordinary users and businessmen striving to promote their companies.

The demand is confirmed by the latest data: according to statistics, the last few years have been marked by a significant increase in local search traffic (millions of in-app searches have been performed!). And if there is a demand, there must be a supply either. And we suggest that you provide it.

Don't know where to start? Hence, our article will come in handy! We are going to reveal the issue of creating the best local search app and describe the most effective ways to earn on it. Also, you'll be informed enough to come up with the unique approach to your local search strategy.

What is a local search and review app

The search nearby implies that a person wants to find a definite object in a specified location (or to make sure of which establishments are located around). Such an option is rather convenient and could come in handy on a great many occasions: if you need a local hotel search or want to know where to dine (or something of the sort). Anyway, the issue of use cases is too significant and complex and should be considered in more detail in due course.

The importance of local search is indubitable, the facts testify in its favor, namely…

search nearby

As you see, the number is quite high and leads to the idea of making local searches a source of income. After all, why not? That's quite easy, all you have to do is build an application of this type.

But what is a local search service? These are applications which allow you to search and find local services and businesses, restaurants, shops, hotels (and so on) nearby.

Local search ranking factors are based on a different approach than the one used to obtain organic results: here, the data we process is tied to the user's IP address.

Local search habits

Before moving on to more complex issues, let's look at the local search habits. In other words, what do local searchers expect to see and receive? What should you do to satisfy them?

  • Mobility. Most local searches are done on mobile devices/tablets, more than 55%, to be more precise. That's why an application is the most preferred format of the local search service.
  • No payment. Of course, users prefer popular free local search and review apps, they don’t want to pay for using these programs. But then, how should you earn money? There are a few ways which we'll describe a bit later.
  • Review apps. The majority of local searches include the review feature. As statistics claims, most users trying to find local businesses (or services) want to see reviews either. Do not disappoint their expectations!

Local search optimization

By the way, here is an example of review apps - a concept created by our designer.

Local search engine optimization

We should also mention another issue, namely, - local search optimization. Alas, not all the business owners take care of such a problem, which is a pity. And your task is to persuade them that search engine optimization for local businesses is very important, and it's a worthy object of expenditure.

Local search traffic

To get financial benefits from a local business search application, you don’t need to have your own company. You just have to create a program focused on a search nearby and find your loyal users.

Speaking of users…

Who is its target audience

Many searches are local in their type, which leads to a logical conclusion that the apps helping to search nearby are in high demand. But who are they, these app users? Let's figure it out!

What are local searchers looking for?

What are we, people, usually looking for when using the web or mobile Internet? In fact, the information we need might be of a very different nature, from the weather forecasting to the process of manufacturing a product.

However, when it comes to the search nearby, the situation is changing. Local searchers are interested in a different kind of information. They need to know what is happening here and now: establishments around, their working hours, reviews, and stuff like that.

To be precise, representatives of the target audience want to know what is located around them, as well as get detailed information about each place in question (that's where the review apps would come in handy!).

So these people need localized search results.

The key difference

The key difference of our target audience is the fact that these people are consumers who are willing to pay. No matter what it's about: visiting a restaurant, shopping, finding sights or a suitable hotel. In each case, a person has a specific need and uses your application to find the best way to meet it. And, of course, these users definitely visit a local business after a search, otherwise, why did they start all this in the first place? And you, as the platform provider, can benefit from it (we'll discuss the ways to benefit later, just keep reading).

The Main Audience

The basis of the TA is made up of Millennials - as the study says, they are twice as likely to use the search near feature than users of another age category. Well, there is no point in wondering: Millennials are used to virtuality, they do not imagine their lives without the Internet and other technologies. So if they are trying to find locations, hours and contact information (or something else), they're doing it with the latest tools.

As the statistics say, it is the Millennials who are best converted into the clients making payments. And if millennials search for a local business, it means they're ready to buy (a product) and order (a service).

And, of course, do not forget about the companies which will be registered in your local search app and, with a skillful approach, would become one of the ways of your earning.

Let's explore which businesses should be interested in your service.

What business types you can cover

It's time to discuss the main types of these apps and find out which businesses would be interested in them.

All-in-one

This local search app belongs to the all-in-one or all-inclusive category. Namely, any company can register in your application by specifying the office address, business category, and other similar data.

The app’s main task is to help the user understand what is around him: what restaurants, business centers, shops, etc. Simply put, we're talking about a convenient City Guide.

Examples of local business search apps of this sort are AroundMe and Superpages Local Search - the applications which help to find all kinds of services around you may need, including theatres, shops, gas stations, etc. The user can both determine the location of the company he needs, and get all the available information about it.

Search for local restaurants and food

And now it's about the search for nearby restaurants. Such services are very popular among users who want to find a good place to eat. The application offers them the entire list of institutions in the nearest location with detailed information about each: address, menu, etc.

 Do you want to create an application like Postmates and Zomato, the one which helps users find nearby restaurants? We have the article you should read!

If you want to create an advanced app to search nearby restaurants, you should add the following features:

  • address and location on the map (to help the user to better navigate)
  • illustrated menu with a price list
  • table reservation
  • reviews
  • opportunity to ask a question
  • charts with the best dishes from meat, fish, vegetarian products (etc.) close to the user

A wonderful example of the service to search local restaurants is, of course, Foursquare. By the way, among our projects, there is also a similar application called Foodhead which allows finding places to eat nearby.

And here is the concept of the application of the sort. We believe, a mobile app with such a design will reach and touch each user:

importance of local search

Travel

Travelers, tourists, and people on business trips especially appreciate these applications. They find themselves in an unfamiliar city (sometimes - in the unfamiliar country), afraid to get lost, and want to navigate around without problems. So, the importance of local search apps is obvious to them.

Travelers of all kinds use such services for:

  • local hotel search. It’s a convenient way to find a place to stay: hotel, hostel, apartments.
  • local shopping search. Of course, tourists cannot do without shops, many of them go abroad to make shopping (maybe it’s not the main reason, but still important).
  • visiting different sights. Tourists certainly wouldn’t mind knowing which cultural places they should visit first.
  • local restaurants search. Definitely, travelers need information about places to eat either.

The best local search apps of the travel type (at least, the most popular ones) are Booking and Trip Advisor (to date, maybe you'll compete with them successfully… who knows?).

The Booking app provides the opportunity to find the optimal accommodation option if you're planning a vacation or business trip anywhere in the world. And TripAdvisor allows making the perfect trip in all senses: find the cheapest flights, the appropriate hotels, and restaurants in any corner of the globe.

Both applications offer quite extensive and diverse functionality, however, you may choose a simpler local search strategy (hence, a cheaper one). If your budget is limited, create a mobile service which enables users to search for local accommodation (hotel, hostel, apartment), view basic information about each one, and go to the company's website to complete the order (if you think a booking feature would be too much).

local search ranking factors

Here is our vision of a cool travel application

Healthcare

When it comes to health, the local search services would also come in handy. Their main tasks are:

  • finding the right doctor (clinic) nearby;
  • viewing reviews about the doctor (hospital);
  • appointment scheduling;
  • live chat to consult online;
  • emergency call.

You might have heard of Alan, a well-known medical mobile service. So, it has supplemented its functionality with the Alan Map feature, and now its users can search for local doctors of any type.

As you see, even market "monsters" have become cognizant of the advantages of such applications… you should follow their lead.

What features do users expect?

We have described the local search apps of different types and the possibilities they must provide. Now we'll discuss what these services have in common, what is a must-have feature set? In other words, what is the basic MVP functionality?

  1. Log in and Sign in. As with any application, you must first invite the user to register. There are two types of registration in the app for local search:
    • As a user. The user (anyone who belongs to the target audience we’ve described earlier) have several ways to log in: via mail, SMS or social networks. The latter option is obviously the simplest one.
    • As a company. A company which wants information about it to be available to users must also complete the registration procedure.
  2. Profiles. Filling in the profile is the logical step following the registration phase. Again, the format of the profile depends on who fills it, the user or the company:
    • User. If the user has been authorized with a social network (say, Facebook), then the basic information about him will be extracted from his account. Otherwise, ask him to fill in the following fields:
      • Name
      • Sex
      • Avatar (if desired)
      • Age
      • Location
      • Settings (such a feature helps the user to manage his search nearby app in the most convenient way).
    • Company. Companies should do more to fill in their profiles. In the end, their task is to get the user interested in their establishment and "invite to visit", so to say.
      • Industry. Is it a hotel, restaurant, clinic, pharmacy or something else?
      • Location. The exact address is a prerequisite for local business search.
      • Short description. The company is offered to write a couple of words about its establishment. It is advisable to try hard and create a convincing laudatory text.
      • Photos/video. Statistics say that people still adore pictures and prefer applications with high-quality images. We mean photos of dishes (in the case of restaurants), interior, staff (eg doctors or cooks), etc. Video clips, too, would be welcome, but you can do with just photos.
      • Prices. Finally, the user of the search nearby app would feel more comfortable knowing in advance the prices of the establishment (the cost of meals, doctors' services, accommodation prices, etc.)
      • Useful links. In this section, the company should place any links which relate to its field of activity (such as the official company site).
      • Social profiles. If a company has its own page in social networks, then obviously it would be glad to specify it here.
      • Contacts. And the last but not least is contacts (phone, Skype, Viber, and others).
  3. Detailed map. What is a local search without an interactive map? Of course, you would need one. All important objects (restaurants, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.) should be marked here: the user can tap any of them to get more detailed information. By the way, in one of our articles, we’ve explained in detail how to implement such a feature.
  4. Advanced search engine. Obviously, the application itself is aimed at searching, but now we mean something more specific, namely, a search bar where the user can enter the query of interest and get the answer (that's why local search optimization is needed). Queries, naturally, must be related to finding a certain object in a definite location.
  5. Feedback and review block. Review apps mean the possibility to leave feedback and describe your impressions of using the services of the company. The user can write whether he liked his visiting the restaurant or whether the hotel complies with the declared description. Such reviews help other users make the right choice.
  6. Social integrations. Making local searches, people want to share their results, impressions and won’t mind telling about their experience of interaction with your application. So provide them with such a chance and create the social integration feature.
  7. Notifications. Notifications are helpful to ensure that your users do not forget about your app and, therefore, keep your local search traffic at a high level. You should send notifications in such cases as:
    • the user seems to have put your local search service out of his mind, he did not open the program for several days. You can send him a joking, reproachful reminder, something like that: "We miss you! Please, come back soon!"
    • there is something interesting in the user location (say, there is a great clearance sale in the nearest store. Or, maybe, a restaurant nearby arranges a holiday?)
    • you want to report something related to the local search app itself: new features have been added, possibilities extended, and so on.
  8. Support. The feature helps users contact you if they have any questions about your service. Lack of such an opportunity might greatly anger them and lead to their removing your program and installing a similar one belonging to competitors.

These features are mandatory, but there are also those which can be useful too:

  • booking a table, rooms, etc.
  • making an appointment (with a doctor, travel agent, and so on).

However, under conditions of saving, you can do without these features. As we’ve mentioned earlier, it'd be enough to specify a link to the company's website, and users will make an order directly on the web resource.

How you can make money with local search and review apps

As you remember, we promised to tell you about the ways of monetization. Now we are ready to keep our word, the more especially as a good local search strategy should include such an important aspect. Obviously, monetization is the main thing to think of.

You have several options to earn on the local business search application:

  • in-app advertising. It’s a fairly traditional and popular method. If your application is in demand, then finding advertisers won’t be a problem.
  • interest for booking through the application. That is, a person uses your local search app to book a table, buy a ticket, etc. and pays you, as the owner of the platform, a small percentage. In the end, it a "win-win" situation.
  • paid listing. It’s a kind of paid search engine optimization for local business. The company pays you, and then the user sees information about its services in the first place (regardless of the location factor or rating).
  • additional paid features. You can offer users two packages of services: a free local search service and a paid option with more features (the so-called freemium model). By the by, the possibility of booking through the application would be a great paid feature.

Do not limit yourself to a single method, combine several monetization options, and you'll achieve tremendous success.

Conclusions

If you are ready for your local search experiment, let us know! We will help to make your dream come true. Our Agilie team has a wealth of experience in developing local search apps, which means we know all the possible pitfalls and the ways to overcome them. And we'd be pleased to offer you our professional services.

Do you still have doubts? Ask for advice! Write your question and we’ll be happy to assist.

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