Citysearch Local Rewards: the Newest Answer to Yelp’s Elite Squad

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When I went to Citysearch today, I noticed a wee something on the homepage:

Citysearch has been in the reviews game for years.  But this is CS’s first attempt at creating a program akin to Yelp’s well-known “Elite Squad” and Google’s lesser-known knockoff, “Local Guides.”

CS’s twist is that die-hard reviewers get Amazon gift cards.

Here’s the full announcement:

Citysearch users want to know what businesses you like and why. They want to know what businesses to avoid. And we want to reward you when you take the time to provide your opinion, photos and more. We also want to provide you opportunities to earn rewards for supporting local businesses. The points you earn can be converted to an Amazon Gift Card at any time, once you’ve earned at least 1000 points. To start earning points all you need to do is create an account and verify your email address.

There are lots of ways to earn points.

  • Be the first person to review a business.
  • Be the first person to upload a photo for a business.
  • Write a review that is helpful.
  • “Send” a business to your friends.
  • Support a qualified business (COMING SOON).

Have you done the following before?

  • Review a business.
  • Vote a business “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”
  • Upload a photo.
  • Create a Guide.

It’s nice to see a general local directory get more serious about reviews, and not simply sit ringside while Yelp and Google slap at each other.

A few problems:

a) Not many people use CS.  Its troubles are well-documented.

b) It’s not as prominent in Google’s search results as it used to be.

c) It’s riddled with bogus reviews.

Also, the fact that Citysearch is offering Amazon gift cards for reviews may mean that people crank out thoughtless reviews just to score some of that Monopoly Money.  (Not that CS would be the only site with that problem.)

Still, CS has long been a site that I and others have recommended scaring up some reviews on, partly because those reviews get syndicated far and wide.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the Local Rewards program takes off, and whether it brings somewhere Citysearch with it.

What do you think of the program?  Will this change your reviews strategy at all?  Leave a comment!


  1. Hey Phil!
    Thanks for covering this. I’m curious as to what ‘support a qualified business’ could mean. Could Citysearch be planning to roll out an Amazon-like hookup for service providers? What’s your take on that?

    • Hey Miriam,

      I was curious about that as well. I could imagine it being anything from a type of BBB accreditation “lite,” to paying CitySearch to encourage reviews on your behalf, to checking in post-transaction at certain businesses.

      Not sure why they’ve waited to announce that feature.

  2. Maybe I’m just tired, but I still can’t see how to add a business on Citysearch directly. As you know, we’re now suggesting that folks simply get listed on InfoGroup since all the IAC properties are grabbing their Citations from them. Can a business owner interact with the users that are giving them reviews? I’ll agree this is a (potentially) nice feature, but only if/when the business owner is equally involved in the process. Otherwise, this is Yelp-light…. and that probably doesn’t end well….

    • There’s no self-serve way to add your business to CitySearch: either wait for InfoGroup to pipe your listing through, and then claim it, or try your luck with contacting CitySearch support directly.

      As of today there’s no way to reply to CitySearch reviews. Maybe that will change.

      • Ok, thanks for confirming. We tell SMBs to avoid sites where they have little control – this fits that description perfectly. Catering solely to users is an eyeball grab and won’t end well for anybody. If/when they consider opening it up to the business owner, I might reconsider…

        Citation sites have to offer more than *just* the directory to be valuable medium and longer term.

        • Good points, Scott, but the trouble is you can’t always control where you’re listed, and where you’ve got reviews. These sites want you to be listed, especially if you’ve got reviews. My advice for business owners who are getting clobbered by reviews on sites where they’ve got “little control”: get some happy customers to speak up.

      • avatar Mariena Quintanilla says:

        Business owners do have the ability to respond to reviews through the CityGrid Dashboard if they are paying customers. CityGrid sells a CPC-based advertising product to their network which includes Citysearch and respond to (Citysearch) reviews is included. Go to for more information.

  3. to quote Phil above: “a) Not many people use CS. Its troubles are well-documented.”

    Hey Phil if some city searcher was looking at real time analytics while you were visiting their site they must have p####d in pants. A visitor A visitor!!!!!!!

    Its good they are giving away something for free. That might get them 4-12 people across the country. 😉

    • Ow. That is rough, Dave. But I agree with the basic point. IYP traffic is hard-earned, and CitySearch will have to grunt to win it back after years of letting things slip.

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