week after Yahoo added local search
capability to its map tool, Google yesterday
moved its fledgling local search engine out into
Google Local, it is available at local.google.com, and searchers are taken to
Google Local if they click on a compass icon
returned at the top of the results page for
Google's page-rank algorithm, Google Local uses
a new ranking system that returns both
commercial and non-commercial local
information from yellow pages data providers and
Google's index of 4 billion Web pages. Google
said it would add paid search listings to Google
Local in the coming months.
has experimented with local search since
September, when it quietly released Search by
Location in its Google Labs section dedicated to
developing new search applications. Google Local
is still classified as a beta application, like
Google News and Froogle, its product search
quality of the product and some of the
innovations we've worked on make us confident to
offer local.google.com," said Sukhinder
Singh, general manager of local search at
Google Local, searchers looking for a pizzeria
in Manhattan receive local listings on the left
side of the page, with address, phone number and
a link to driving directions. On the right side,
Google returns algorithmic Web search results
for each corresponding listing. Results can be
placed on a map and refined based on a 1-mile,
5-mile, 15-mile or 45-mile radius. Listings are
ranked by proximity and relevance; click-through
rates do not affect ranking.
release opens another front in Google's battle
with Yahoo for leadership in the search market.
A week ago, Yahoo released SmartView, a tool on
Yahoo Maps that gives users access to local
information in 55 categories ranging from public
parks to Chinese restaurants. SmartView carries
paid listings at the bottom of the map and sells
sponsorships for national chains to have their
locations easily accessed from the map.
Sterling, a local search analyst at The Kelsey
Group, said the key to Google's system is
returning both Web search results and database
information, known as structured data.
really the structured data that's the key to the
whole thing," he said. "In the absence
of the structured data, they'd be hard-pressed
to present a quality local search user
refused to specify who provides Google with its
listings information, other than saying it draws
on yellow pages and other information databases.
The company said businesses not listed could
e-mail their business information to email@example.com,
and Google would pass the request to its
database providers. Google said it would not
charge for inclusion in the listings, and its
partners do not accept payment for listings.
Google are keenly interested in tapping the
roughly 10 million U.S. small businesses. The
Kelsey Group estimates that the market for local
search advertising could be worth $2.5 billion
in 2008 and that already 25 percent of
commercial searches are for local information.
addition to the search giants, yellow pages
providers like Verizon SuperPages.com have made
a push to be major players in the market, along
with sites like CitySearch. SuperPages and
CitySearch offer cost-per-click advertising.
Local does not carry paid listings, though Singh
said that would change soon.
certainly have plans for that in the very near
future," she said.
already allows advertisers to target their ads
to locations, letting them marry a keyword with
210 Designated Market Areas. Google serves the
ads to users based on the location of their
Internet addresses. Google said it planned to
expand Google Local to international markets.
by Yahoo and Google to offer local search
engines could open large amounts of search
inventory, said Nate Elliott, an analyst with
I'm a local business, I want to be in these
listings -- and as of right now, I have no idea
how to make that happen," he said.
said advertising on Google Local would follow
the search company's credo of combining bidding
with click-through rates to determine the most
relevant listing. The paid listings will be kept
separate from Google Local's business listings
and algorithmic search results.
Overture Services unit plans soon to release a
local search-advertising platform that lets
advertisers tie their listings to a set radius
around their business locations.
and Google have said they are committed to
making search advertising easy for local
businesses. As part of that push, Overture plans
to offer businesses a Web page to carry basic
business information for small advertisers
lacking a Web site. Both search companies also
expect to implement partnerships with businesses
that already have relationships with small
businesses, such as yellow pages and newspaper
really a big challenge for these guys,"
Sterling said. "How are they going to get
access to businesses at the local level?"
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