Foursquare has been pitching itself as a local search tool but until now, it didn’t have a rating systems for places like Yelp’s (s yelp) five stars or Google’s Zagat (s goog) 3o-point scale. But now, the location-based service is introducing a 10-point rating system that will give users a better idea about how good a place might actually be.
With the latest update to the iOS app (s aapl), Foursquare will now include the score on places when a user conducts a search through Foursquare’s Explore engine. Users can also check out the scores online at Foursquare’s recently beefed up website.
In a not so-subtle dig at Yelp, the company said in a blog post that users don’t have to put up with a bunch of 3.5 star ratings. Foursquare comes up with its score by looking at tips left by users, likes, dislikes, popularity, check-ins and it also weights signals more heavily for local experts.
The ratings help boost Foursquare as a local recommendation tool, giving people a number they can latch on to. It’s part of Foursquare’s evolution into a local search engine, which it hopes can ultimately compete with Google and Yelp for users and advertisers. We’ve noted that Foursquare recently opened up its website to non-members, turning its home page into a Google-like search tool. And it previously added menus and OpenTable integration as well.
The fact that the new score is a combination of a bunch of user behavior and algorithmic work means it might be harder to game the ratings, as sometimes happens on Yelp. But it also means some merchants might be unhappy with their scores or may not understand how to improve them. We’ll have to see if Foursquare’s 25 million users start trusting its ratings the way they might with Yelp stars. But I’m looking forward to the system because I see so many 3.5 and 4-star places on Yelp, I’ve started getting blind to those ratings.