Yahoo Local Moves Out of Test Mode

With updated algorithms and a refreshed design, the local-search service hits Web prime time after two months of beta testing.

Yahoo unveiled its local search service on Monday following a two-month beta test.

Yahoo Inc. has started promoting Yahoo Local from its home page and includes a local option in its search query box. It also will tout the service over the next few months with an online and offline advertising and marketing campaign.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company has made "evolutionary changes based on feedback from consumers" during the beta of Yahoo Local that began in August, said Paul Levine, a Yahoo vice president and general manager of Yahoo Local. The most significant changes include updated relevancy algorithms and tweaks to the user interface, Levine said.

Yahoo Local weighs results based on half a dozen or so factors, such as a type of restaurant or the geographic location being queried. For the full launch, the weight of various factors was rejiggered in the algorithms to better match what people typically are seeking, Levine said.

One of the user-interface changes came in the way Yahoo Local can narrow search results. When certain local results are returned, such as for a restaurant, Yahoo Local displays a series of options for refining the results by specific categories, user ratings, price range and other factors.

Along with the Web, Yahoo Local continues to draw in results from about half a dozen data sources, such as business directory providers including Inc.

/zimages/4/28571.gifWill local search fulfill its promise? Click here to read more.

Yahoo Local also displays search-based advertising alongside results from Yahoo subsidiary Overture Services. The ads come from Overtures Local Match service, which was launched in June as a way for advertisers to geographically target pay-per-click ads.

Yahoos further embrace of local search follows increased competition in the space. Google has continued to tweak its beta local-search service, which also displays geographically targeted, sponsored links from its AdWords program.

Also, traditional telephone directory publishers such as Verizon have entered the space, as well as smaller search competitors such as Ask Jeeves Inc.

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