RealTime IT News

Google Maps Local Search Game

Google jockeyed for position in the local search game this week when it announced the official release of Google Maps, an enhancement to Google Local.

The new feature, launched as a beta version last month, enables users in the United States and Canada to find location information, navigate maps and get directions to neighborhood businesses, according to the company. Searched images can direct users to business locations with directions provided on Google Local.

The company said it will also provide reviews of businesses and additional information about establishments, such as hours of operation, payment types accepted, whether they have Wi-Fi availability, restaurant menus, hotel amenities and more.

Google Maps also recently launched support for Opera and Safari browsers.

Some estimates suggest that local search is the fastest growing segment in the search game with as much as 20 percent of all searches performed locally in conjunction with the user.

As previously reported by internetnews.com, numerous online search had retail giants were paving the way for more localized business models. Internet retail giant Amazon introduced a new feature to an old service when it launched A9.com Yellow Pages, a guide to local businesses complete with photographs.

While Google launched its local search in March 2004, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves followed with local offerings in August. AOL just launched AOL Local Search last month.