I noticed that Network Solutions has quietly added a play in the local search / IYP space – ThinkLocal.com . The site includes maps, weather, a yellow pages like search for businesses, and user review features.
I’ve thought for years that a site which allows people to search specifically for business websites would be a killer app, and Network Solutions has always had enough data to provide that very sort of thing through their status as a major domain name registrar. Unfortunately, I think no one site ever created a sufficiently broad directory of business websites, and Google, Yahoo! and MS Live have all evolved to fill that gap to some degree (it’d still be great to have the ability to only search for biz websites and not get unrelated content).
ThinkLocal doesn’t appear to be purely built from Network Solutions’ database, though. I found lots listings with no website associated, which is a little disappointing. I think they must’ve licensed directory info from someone like an Acxiom or InfoUSA. Possibly they’re banging that directory info up against their own database of domain names, which would be the smart thing to do.
Network Solutions has worked to diversify for quite some time, spreading out to include hosting packages, email services, etcetera, and ThinkLocal appears to be another one of their sideline businesses. They’re currently running Google ads through the site, and also offering advertising through Enhanced Listings.
I don’t see anything revolutionary here yet, but they have performed some level of SEO to index thousands of their pages, and they have sufficient capital to potentially make a dent in the local space.