Founded in 2008, Nextdoor is probably the most interesting company in local search that isn’t named Google, Facebook or Yelp. It’s not really on the mainstream local SEO to-do list at this point but it’s definitely a massive site with lots of traffic and engagement.

Today the site announced a deal with local home services directory Thumbtack in which the latter’s contractors will appear in local search results as sponsored listings. Below is a desktop image that shows local search results for “handyman” featuring Thumbtack pros.

Deeper integration than HomeAdvisor. Nextdoor has an existing home services partnership with HomeAdvisor. The difference between that deal and the one with Thumbtack is that the booking/communication will happen in Nextdoor vs. clicking over to HomeAdvisor, which takes users through lead-gen qualification forms.

Thumbtack contractors will also be featured on Nextdoor business pages, which are very similar to Facebook local business pages and present relevant member conversations about the business.

It’s not clear from the materials I’ve seen whether this is a premium product on Thumbtack or what the selection criteria are — if there are any beyond being a Thumbtack advertiser. Nextdoor is the second-announced company in Thumbtack’s new Partner Network, which also includes Google Local Services Ads.

The challenges of building a local search destination. While the move to build out a syndication network is logical and smart, it also likely reflects the challenges of building Thumbtack into a brand and capturing more direct traffic in a time when a small number of dominant companies own most consumer traffic in local search.

Nextdoor is likely moving toward a public offering and needs to grow revenues. Direct ad sales to SMBs are extremely challenging and would require a significant investment of time and personnel. This is an easier way forward in the near term for the company. However, longer term, Nextdoor will need direct ad or SaaS products for local merchants.

There is also the possibility that a larger site would buy Nextdoor before it could get to an IPO. But it would be expensive; the company has raised more than $400 million at a valuation of over $2 billion. (Yelp’s market cap is only $2.4 billion currently.) Nextdoor says it’s represented in “more than 247,000 neighborhoods around the world,” including North America, Europe and Australia.

Why we should care. Nextdoor has an opportunity to become a top-tier local search destination in a way that many others, including Thumbtack do not. It has developed a member culture of local contractor referrals and could drive considerable search volume and leads provided it makes the right moves and conditions users to utilize its search box.

And in one version of the future it could also challenge Facebook as a local search destination and SMB ad platform.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.

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