Google Starts Syndicating Local Search and Maps

In a first step toward broader distribution, Google Local opens a pilot with AccuWeather to provide local business listings and map information on the weather-forecast site.

Google Inc.s local-search results and online maps could become more of a Web fixture as the company begins syndicating the services to other sites.

A beta test of syndicated Google Local results went live Wednesday on the Web site of AccuWeather Inc., Google officials said. Visitors to the weather services site can search for local businesses, view business locations on a map and retrieve driving directions without leaving the site.

The test is a precursor to Google offering other partners access to syndicated versions of its local search and mapping services. It also marks the first time that Google has integrated Google Local or Google Maps into sites other than its own, a Google spokesman said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifGoogle lets users retrieve local listings, maps and directions from mobile browsers. Click here to read more.

"Our goal is to receive feedback on this pilot and launch the product with additional partners in the future," said spokesman Barry Schnitt, in an e-mail interview.

Google, of Mountain View, Calif., has syndicated its search services before. It offers other Web sites with access to its Web search engine and distributes its pay-per-click ads through publisher partners.

By syndicating its local-search service, which is tightly integrated with Google Maps, Google also is extending the reach of its main advertising program, called AdWords.

Since last year, AdWords has offered advertisers the option of targeting their sponsored listings to specific cities and local areas. It already had begun providing geographically targeted ads to its AdSense publishing partners who display pay-per-click ads.

AccuWeather also has included sponsored listings within local-search results. The search option is integrated within the weather forecast pages for specific cities and regions.

Both Google Local and Google Maps are beta services themselves. Google first launched local search in late 2003 and stepped into online mapping earlier this year.

Schnitt declined to offer details on the specific business arrangement for the AccuWeather syndication but said that, in general, partners will pay to display local-search results and could receive a share of revenue from clicks on ads.

Local search has become a hotly contested part of the overall search market. Google is battling with main rival Yahoo Inc., along with smaller search engines, traditional telephone-directory providers and specialized local sites.

/zimages/3/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.