Google Maps Local-Search Improvements

The search leader upgrades Google Local, still in beta, by showing more interactive maps with results and beefing up relevancy.

Google Inc. on Tuesday updated its local search service with a focus on maps and providing more relevant results.

Google Local combines results from the Web with business-directory information to display local business listings and information. Google lets users conduct local searches either from its main Web query, displaying local results atop broader Web results, or from its Google Local site.

In the update, Google has integrated maps onto local result pages, pinpointing businesses from the listings on the maps and allowing users to zoom and pan directions without reloading the Web page, the Mountain View, Calif., company announced..

Google had previously displayed a map on individual listings using Inc. A spokesman said the company is using different mapping technology for its new map features, but he declined to name the provider.

Google Local, a research project launched as a public beta in March, is the search leaders answer to the growing focus on search results and information targeted to specific cities and geographies. Last month, competitors Yahoo Inc. and Ask Jeeves Inc. expanded their local search service, while a growing number of startups and telephone-directory providers are also delving into the space.

/zimages/1/28571.gifWill local search meet expectations? Click here to read more.

Googles other local enhancements include expanding the number of indexed Web pages that it searches to retrieves local results and "improved relevancy technology" to better target results to queries, the company announced.

A Google spokesman declined to specify details of the changes, but he said part of the improved relevancy comes from more results being returned that match the home page of a local business.

Google Local remains in beta, and the company has declined to say when it plans a full release.

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