Foursquare rolls out new web-based local search function

Foursquare became one of the hottest mobile apps upon its launch in 2009 - RevLocal has successfully used the social media platform in its clients' campaigns to promote customer check-ins and interest. But as is the case for several social media apps and sites of its type, the question has always been what can it do to move forward and distinguish itself in the digital arena. For a while now, SEO experts said it was only a matter of time before Foursquare made the jump from local social networking and check-in app to a full-fledged local search engine, and a new website revamp indicates the transition is finally coming to fruition.

Foursquare has rolled out a new homepage that expands its reach into the local search market. Previously, it only allowed logged-in users to take advantage of its local search capabilities. But the new logged-out homepage, which enables all users to access its search functions, not only marks the evolution of Foursquare to the level of a genuine local search utility, it also trains the company's sights on Yelp as its main competitor.

The new desktop homepage now prominently displays a search bar that includes a user's location set against a map, tying together all the elements of local search in a creative visual. The new page builds off its previous recommendations for logged-in users; however, Foursquare now believes it has the capability to provide relevant recommendations for users who have not checked in, which is big because not every user checks in everywhere they go.

"(W)e’ve been tweaking and improving the formula that supplies those recommendations, analyzing and re-analyzing our nearly 3 billion check-ins and 30 million tips to find the keys to the best recommendations," Foursquare's official blog wrote.

A key function to how it displays search engine results has to do with the score Foursquare calculates for each establishment. Variables like check-ins, lists, likes, dislikes, tips and other information go into a numerical score, which end up being the ranking system for results. The results are displayed in a sidebar with corresponding numbers placed over their location on an interactive map.

Of course, the search engine still offers an incentive to sign up for Fousquare, as members have access to exclusive filters and tools that allow users to search for places they haven't been to, places friends have visited and establishments with special offers.