I've been using Google for local searches for a while out of habit, but gave it a lot more play when the company opened its Places Pages with details about landmark locations and local businesses when users search Google Maps.
This is very serviceable and I found the ratings and reviews listed in Place Pages useful.
But then I just learned what WhitePages.com is up to. The company, a specialist in helping people find people online (just like the physical white pages), has a much plainer, practical solution for basic business info.
Eschewing the obvious Yellow Pages moniker, WhitePages Business Search includes more than 15 million business listings and a great store locator for 1 million local branches of popular national business chains.
That's compared with the 4 million businesses listed in Place Pages through the Google Places program.
When you go to Google to search for, say, Target, you'll get results for Target, but you typically have to scroll up and down and click through, even if you have personalized search turned on, to glean more relevant information. Check it out:
Six thousand search results for "target, seattle." Ewwwww. Now check out the search in WhitePages Business Search:
WhitePages brings you retail locations that are more relevant with fewer clicks. It gets even better. When you use Google Maps for local search, you have to click through links to get to businesses' store locators.
When you use the WhitePages Store Locator, you access business info for some 2,500 businesses, often with a single click. It essentially takes the tedious scrolling and click-throughs out of business search.
Sixteen, and not 6,000, neighborhood Target stores in Seattle appear. The associated maps, interestingly enough, are powered by Bing Maps, not Google Maps. However, they are using WhitePages local business data.
Jason Milstead, director of WhitePages Business Search, has argued that WhitePages is focused on delivering the practical info, such as store address, phone numbers, hours of operation, maps and directions. He added:
"Web users that want to connect with websites should use Google or Bing. But if they simply want practical, easy to find contact information to connect with a local store of a business chain, doctor or dentist, WhitePages Business Search is the best resource."
So say you find the Target, Best Buy or Wal-Mart you're looking for. WhitePages users can share this info via e-mail and text messaging for free, or even save contact information to Outlook.
The local search site also leverages Facebook's Like button to let users share search results with other users, and Twitter.
Don't take it from me. Check out the brief demo here to see how WhitePages provides some efficiencies over Google and Bing and decide for yourself:
I'm using WhitePages.com for local business search going forward because, well, sometimes too much data and info gets to be too much.
Interestingly, WhitePages.com is just starting with retail business searches. Expect expansion to other verticals, including helping users find doctors and other health care providers, in the future.