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11/21/2005
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Local Search Takes Off, Gets Funds

In the latest sign that localized search is growing in importance on the Web, Judy's Book, an online registry that provides word of mouth on everything from restaurants to car washes, raised $8 million in venture funding led by Mobius Venture Capital Inc.


Founders Sack (left) and DeVore say Judy's Book connects users with the best services.

Founders Sack (left) and DeVore say Judy's Book connects users with the best services.
The site, which launched earlier this year, is a forum in which people can swap tips on local businesses they trust or hate. Businesses sign up for free, but they can pay for leads and for sponsored links when people search for competitors. The founders, Andy Sack and Chris DeVore, tout it as connecting consumers to businesses with the best service, not just the biggest ad budget.

Google and Yahoo both launched their own local-search features last year. Local search volume will exceed 20 billion searches in the next year, predicts The Kelsey Group research firm, representing about one-fifth of all Web searches.

Another search venture, startup TrueLocal, launched a local search site last week, using a paid-search model in which companies bid for the highest listings, but only qualify if their brick-and-mortar business is in the desired geography.

The likes of TrueLocal and Judy's Book hope to thrive despite the increasing attention Google and Yahoo are devoting to local search by having more-accurate and more-relevant searches.

In the local-search context, that means only delivering results that actually are local. Yahoo's purchase of location-based services firm Whereon-earth.com Ltd. of the United Kingdom last month to boost its local search indicates that it recognizes the need to get better at addressing this fast-growing market.

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