Buffs Up Local Search
By Pamela Parker & Kevin Newcomb
has added new features to its local search engine, in hopes of
attracting a bigger audience and creating more inventory for its
The company has integrated the newly-launched Google Maps. It's
also integrated various other bits of information—including
user reviews, hours of operation and credit cards accepted. All
of these are gathered from various sites across the Internet,
including Citysearch, Dine.com, SuperPages.com, Gayot.com, AOL
CityGuide, Frommers.com and RestaurantRow.com.
The additional information, especially user reviews, also helps
Google better rank search results to meet searcher queries.
Ads targeted based both on search queries and local geography
appear atop natural search results on Google Local.
Google competitor Yahoo! has already integrated advanced mapping
and user reviews into its local product. Yahoo!'s local information
is hosted on the portal, however, rather than gathered from other
sites around the Web.
In a presentation at the Search Engine Strategies show in New
York, representatives from Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL and Ask Jeeves
all pointed to local search—especially local search on mobile
devices—as the most important area to which marketers should
"Users already navigate the Web by search; not by a browse
or random walk paradigm," said Marissa Mayer, director of
consumer Web products at Google. "Search is also going to
become the dominant paradigm for people to find information about
the area where they live."
Mayer said the demand for Google's local search product was surprisingly
high. In fact, it drew more traffic in December than Google's
shopping search product, Froogle, during the holiday shopping
season, and without local search being linked from Google's home