going loco for local
YORK--Local search is a central focus of all the players
at the annual Search Engine Strategies conference here.
Google, for one, updated its local search tool Wednesday
to include Google Maps, a graphical guide to regional
addresses and directions. In addition, it now provides
editorial reviews for local businesses, including such
data as hours of operation or whether Wi-Fi access is
The company also has designed its maps service for Opera
and Apple Computer's Safari browsers, in addition to
Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
America Online is promoting new search tools that help
people home in on local businesses and entertainment--buying
movie tickets online or reserving a table at a restaurant,
for example. The company plans to launch a new local
search service for mobile phones later this year, according
to Jim Riesenbach, AOL Search senior vice president.
Upstarts such as TrueLocal and Insider Pages are trying
to get in the game with nascent services that digitally
connect people to their neighborhood attractions.
Local search has drawn attention of late because it's
thought of as a growth area for advertising. Because
more people are booting up their PC or turning on a
cell phone to find local services or to book events,
search providers are banking on the draw for small-
and medium-size businesses to advertise when people
are most interested. As many as 20 percent of searches
are locally oriented, according to estimates.
And while many small businesses have yet to come online,
research firm the Kelsey Group forecasts that the local
search market will be worth $3.4 billion in five years.