Yelp Closes Traffic Gap With Citysearch

imageCitysearch’s November relaunch came with everything from Facebook Connect compatibility to a new Smartphone-friendly mobile site. But users aren’t exactly gobbling them up. In just a year, local review site Yelp has grown to attract nearly the same size audience as its larger, better-funded rival–and the latest stats from Compete show that Yelp’s visitors are staying longer, viewing more content and returning more often than Citysearch’s users do.

At stake are small (and large) businesses’ online ad budgets: both Citysearch and Yelp run sponsored listings amid their restaurant and nightlife reviews, Yelp publishes an ad-supported weekly newsletter, and Citysearch recently brokered a deal to provide content for MySpace Local. Citysearch currently has the edge in terms of ad diversity (it even offers video ads), but if Yelp’s traffic and engagement stats continue to grow, it could gain enough leverage to start asking for bigger budgets — and siphoning that extra money directly from Citysearch.

IAC-owned Citysearch had over 27.4 million unique visitors in March; Yelp closed out the month with 25.3 million. What’s notable is that the traffic gap was much larger a year ago: Citysearch had 31.2 million uniques to Yelp’s 10.4 million. Yelp has steadily gained traction and buzz since then, partly because its interface is more social media-friendly.

Photo Credit: kaszeta