Maybe Google Romance Wasn't a Joke After All
A lot of people saw this coming: Google, the realtor.
The Mountain View, Calif., firm has been quietly offering a new feature that combines Google Local, a mapping feature, and real estate listings provided by Google advertisers. The results look similar to other online real estate listings services.
But there's a lot more going on under the hood here. The unnamed new Google facet is one of many signs that Google's actually begun integrating listings from Google Base, its free online classifieds feature, into regular Google search results.
And by doing so, Google seems very capable of now actually introducing Google Romance, a bogus dating service serving as the punchline to a recent Google April Fool's joke. The lovelorn should note: Google Base has a category for "People Profiles" that could easily do the trick.
Google tipped its hand to all this with a new user interface, which can be experienced by pointing a Web browser to www.google.com and searching for the phrase "home for sale."
On the results page, there's a way to refine the search by type of real estate listing (for sale, rental...) and a zip code. Later on in the process, Google lets you parse listings further by property type, price, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
From a competitive standpoint, this is Google pulling its trump card to use against eBay, Craigslist and other online classifieds incumbents dominating the market. With the moves, presumably Google Base gets a much, much wider audience, specifically the hundreds of millions using Google's market-leading search engine.
Danny Sullivan, of Searchenginewatch, writes that it's interesting how Google's creating a lot of search engines with a specific focus, but contrary to industry practice is "skipping the step of creating stand-alone sites for each."
He and others believe there's to be a lot more of these tightly focused search engines from Google, mainly because Google Base ads (which are free to upload) are grouped into scores of different categories. So there's many more categories to plumb with the new user interface.