Groupon Adds Business Pages, Allows Customers to Request Deals

Yesterday Groupon dove into the online directory discussion by adding 7 million business listings to the site – along with 20 million validated ratings and tips – they are calling Pages.  While Pages will feature much of the same kind of content and functionality found on Google, Yelp and Facebook, Groupon will also let customers request deals.

“We’re giving these merchants their own space on Groupon and new tools to highlight their business and bring new customers through their doors,” said Eric Lefkofsky, Groupon CEO.

Requesting deals seems to be one of the biggest differentiators between Groupon and its new competition in the online directory space.  Some research suggests that daily deals are sustainable for about one-third of businesses. Knowing how many customers are interested in a deal seems like a perfect way to find out if a business fits into that one-third.

Over time I would imagine that Groupon will be able to create some sort of scale around deal requests, where x amount of requests are needed to profitably run a campaign at x dollars.  This could help businesses understand what to expect from deals, while also optimizing the amount of deals Groupon can sell.

The move will also help the daily deal provider improve visibility in local search results for themselves and for the businesses as well. This will help them attract more regular users instead of consumers stopping in for the occasional deal and not returning for long stretches of time.

In addition, much like Yelp’s many recent integrations with third-party reservations, scheduling and online-ordering platforms, Groupon plans to do the same.  These kind of partnerships seem to be leveling the playing field for all directory sites, making individual listing differentiation difficult.

And what about SEO? Will Groupon be yet another site where businesses “must” be listed in order to rank well in search results? The long tail of implications are interesting, but overall this move helps improve the relevance of Groupon beyond just daily deals.

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