Social network giant Facebook has quietly launched a new desktop-only feature on its site which allows users to find highest-rated local businesses based on customer reviews, entering in direct competition with companies like Yelp and Angie's List.
Facebook Professional Services feature enables users to make searches for categories ranging from Arts and Entertainment down to finding plumbers, dentists, pharmacies, photographers, beauty salons, pizza places and so on.
Though Facebook has not officially made any declarations, the new feature was first noted last Wednesday by Sreedev Sharma, an Indian Social Media Manager at Acodez IT Solutions, a leading web design and development company in India. Sharma, who wrote a short post about the feature, said, "we are quite unsure of the exact date, when it was first unrolled!".
Sharma then sent his findings to Search Engine Land, which reported it Monday. The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine only has snapshots of the new feature from yesterday, which indicates that the public page for this feature has not been around for long.
The webpage for the new feature, which reads 'Find local businesses with the best Facebook reviews and ratings', can be accessed through the URL, www.facebook.com/services.
"You can locate local searches for all categories of businesses starting from Arts & Entertainment, including business consultancy, computer services, home decor, event planning, pet services and more," Sharma wrote.
A click on one of Facebook's business categories will bring up a list of well-rated local businesses, with links to their business profile pages. There will be a host of categories to choose from. There are no direct links to the feature from Facebook's homepage or its mobile apps.
Facebook has quietly rolled out features in the past, typically they are tests for future updates not major platforms. Since many small businesses use Facebook as their primary web presence, a Yelp-like directory makes a lot of sense. Companies such as Yelp and Angie's List are known for similar services that allow users to find and rate restaurants and a variety of other businesses.