Following in the footsteps of Amazon and Google, Facebook has just launched “Facebook Professional Services.” The new desktop-only feature allows users to find the highest rated businesses in a given area. The launch was unannounced and is currently in testing phase, and joins several new Facebook tools that were rolled out this year. If the new local services feature moves forward, then Facebook will be in direct competition from established local service websites like Yelp and Angie’s List.
At first glance, the site is clean and simple. Users can type in what services they are looking for, or scroll down a bit and see images with links to categories like plumbers, pet services, and automotive. Further down the page, an “Explore other services” section features an impressive roster of categories with at least 85 business types. Type into the search box and even more suggestions appear.
The search results take Facebook’s five-star rating system into account when suggesting businesses, and bases the rank of businesses by using its extensive knowledge of users individual preferences. With over 50 million businesses having Facebook Pages with people’s online reviews, the new service will utilize the user submitted reviews to offer a customized experience to find local services
The results page shows a list of business’ contact info, hours of business, and brief excerpts from customer reviews. Additionally, the page also includes a map that shows where businesses are located and links to similar businesses in nearby areas.
“We’re in the early stages of testing a way for people to easily find more Pages for the services they’re interested in,” said a Facebook spokesman in an official statement about the new service.
It’s not yet known if Facebook Professional Services will integrate with Facebook Places. Places is the social network’s local search directory that provides users a way search for geographical locations through the eyes of friends and strangers. Many industry insiders believe that Facebook Places has the potential to oust Yelp as the top local search directory, if it was promoted more and available on mobile devices. Now, with the addition of Facebook Professional Services, the brand might have another service that Yelp should fear. We’ll be watching for the mobile app version of the new service to appear soon.