Google Local Gives Small-Town Feel

Google has refined its search to give users local results off nonspecific keywords, such as "restaurants" or "gym." Users can also input specific location or street names, without the added keywords of a city or state, to obtain local results. Google has been expanding its search features and other capabilities as it continues to compete with Microsoft and Yahoo for online market share.

Google has introduced a new aspect of search that allows users to get local results by inputting nonspecific keywords. For example, typing "restaurant" from a Midtown office in New York City will result in a list of eateries within a few blocks.

"How do we guess your location? In most cases, we match your IP address to a broad geographical location," Jenn Taylor and Jim Muller, software engineers for Google, wrote in a corporate blog posting. "You can also specify your likely location using the -Change location' link on the top right corner, above the map."

In addition, users can input a specific venue without any city or state identifiers, such as "Magnolia Bakery," in order to receive the address ("401 Bleecker Street, New York").

Google has been deepening the functionality of many of its applications, including Gmail. Earlier this month, on April 2, Gmail added Search Autocomplete, which suggests possible terms after the user inputs a few letters into the Gmail search bar. E-mail users can also use a new collection of advanced search operators to search granularly through their Google account.

That same week, the rumor mill cranked into full gear over scuttlebutt that Google was in talks to acquire Twitter, which would have added yet another software offering to the search-engine giant's collection. In an April 6 blog posting, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone suggested that his startup had indeed been "in discussions with other companies regularly," but that Twitter's short-term goal was to become a profitable and independent entity.

Google has been engaged in intense competition with Microsoft and Yahoo over market share for search. Complicating the situation is the recessionary economy, which even Google CEO Eric Schmidt acknowledged would be "very, very tough" on his company.