Local Search Site Serves-Up Content By Intent
Center'd, a local guide for restaurants and activities, has revamped search features and a variety of tools that former Yahoo Local GM Jennifer Dulski believes can outperform those found on other local sites.
The database stores more than 1 million classifications for restaurants, attractions, shopping locations, spas, events, activities and more. Each have been categorized into five "styles" such as "kid-friendly," "group-friendly," "romantic," "cheap" and "outdoor." The company has ambitious plans to serve up content to searchers based on their intent, according to co-founders Dulski and Chandu Thota.
"Being a startup in this economy is a challenge," Dulski said. "It's a race against the clock. We feel as if we're winning the race, but in the startup environment you're always trying to grow as fast as possible because you're always thinking about how much cash you have in the bank."
Chandu, also the company's chief technology officer, said the site's engine crawls the Web searching for publicly available data on venues from blog posts, articles and conversations on social networks. It pulls and categories the information before compiling the listings, relying on natural language processing and machine algorithms rather than keywords.
It ranks the sites by taking into consideration reviews and positive or negative comments, and serves up results in easy-to-read bar graphs. A map provides directions to the locations. The site also pulls feeds from Yelp and CitySearch. As more data feeds into the platform, the experience will improve.
Today, Center'd supports information on 12 cities, from New York and Chicago to San Francisco and Los Angeles -- but the plan is to add 50 major metro cities within the year. The idea is to give people a faster read on places to visit, see or experience.
Dulski said the company is in talks with other sites to integrate the data. The plan also will likely see an iPhone application within the next few weeks. The mobile application has been submitted to Apple for approval to sell through the App Store.
Center'd has paid search ads on the site, but companies that appear in the listing have an option to purchase extra space. For example, restaurants can pay to post a menu or business message, the detailed page about the company. The site also plans to add featured listings at the top of the search page.