Sep 2, 2009 at 10:02am ET by Greg Sterling
A version of local search has existed on Twitter for some time: asking your followers for local recommendations about places to stay, things to do and so on. One can also use Twitter search itself, though it’s very hit and miss in terms of the quality of results. And there are also the third party search engines that use the Twitter API. Yet those typically produce the same uneven results.
But in what is a first (to my knowledge) Idearc’s Superpages has brought true local search to Twitter through Twitter.com/sp411. Twitter users can now conduct searches of the Superpages database and get results as direct messages on Twitter to their local queries. (They can also retweet and share them, which makes it that much more interesting.)
Here’s the process:
- You follow sp411 and then it will automatically follow you a few seconds later
- You then send a direct message to sp411 (”d sp411″) with a query and location. Example: pizza in Seattle, “d sp411 pizza Seattle”.
- Results will appear in an all the Twitter notification places (email, SMS and direct message).
Here’s what it looks like:
Just a couple of seconds after the direct message is sent you see something like this:
If you click through on any of these links you are taken to a business profile page on Superpages’ site:
After the initial set up process, in which you follow sp411 and it follows you, the service proves to be quite useful especially if you’re looking for a specific business phone number or address. It’s also an example of Superpages proactively taking its data and local search capabilities out to where users are, not unlike what many companies have been doing for some time on Facebook.
And in case it isn’t self evident, this also makes Twitter/sp411 a local-mobile search tool as well.
There are a couple of other Twitter bots out there but this is the first local search tool on Twitter. I would imagine, as people see and start to use this, we’re going to see a bunch of vertical and other search tools employing similar functionality. And as they start to emerge they make Twitter a much more interesting and useful site.
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land, and writes a personal blog Screenwerk, examining the broader world of media and advertising. He also posts at a Local Mobile Search, which is focused on the mobile Internet.