Foursquare takes on Yelp with new rating system

With its latest iOS update, released yesterday, FourSquare has taken a leaf out of Yelp’s book and added a rating system for local businesses.

The ratings will be shown when people search for a business using the Explore tab – but won’t be derived just from reviews.

While the system is clearly very similar to Yelp’s, ratings for the Foursquare version come from friends, rather than just anybody.

Unlike Yelp’s, too, they’ll be based on a combination of factors. Users don’t rate businesses from one to ten, for example, instead giving them a ‘like’ or ‘dislike’.

The aim is to use the behavior of real people – and especially one’s friends – rather than just what they write. Factors such as how often people actually visit, for example, are taken into account, and users can see which of their friends have visited in the past.

“Instead of other sites where every place gets 3.5 stars, we come up with our scores using the same Foursquare magic that powers Explore,” says the company in a blog post. “We look at signals like tips, likes, dislikes, popularity, loyalty, local expertise, and nearly three billion check-ins from over 25 million people worldwide.”

The changes represent a continuing strategy to bring Foursquare much closer to being a location-based search engine, rath than just a social network. Last month, for example, it launched a new website which is open to non-users and features a search box.

There’s no word on when the system will be rolled out to users of Android or other platforms.