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'Search by Location' Out of Beta

 7:45 am on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google's response to Yahoo SmartView local search is rolled out - various commentaries [reuters.com].



 1:45 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

woohoo... This is cool stuff. My favorite search was 'potholes zipcode'.
They have "Save location" added on the location beta.


 2:01 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Do a search on a city + service, type of keyword phrase.

Its in the main stream.

I was blown away when I saw this.

Finally - good move Google.


 2:15 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't see it on google.com yet.

[labs.google.com...] which is still linked on the labs page gives a page not found error.


 2:21 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)


try [local.google.com...]


 3:19 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

The local results at the top of the 'normal' results are a little cramped for me. I expect they are still working on the usability and integration aspects. The technology and utility is great though.

No AdWords on the local search page ... yet. From the local FAQ:

"We expect to display ads on Google Local in the not-so-very-distant future."

The next big thing.


 3:21 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

The results are shown sometimes in the main stream Google.com page. I do have a picture for proof but I do not know if I can post a link here to that picture.


 3:24 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

sure, rustybrick. As long it doesn't contain any promotional items, i guess.


 3:26 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Zero ads, not selling anything on this site and its pure informational.

So here: [seroundtable.com...]

Delete it if its not appropriate.


 3:35 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is by far the craziest thing google have done:

In my area they have associated my URL with the names of my competitors, simply because we are located in the same building.

So there are listings of several of my competitors and next to their name is URL of MY WEBSITE!

I emailed them and asked them to remove it.


 3:36 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Where is G. getting the info for the local pages. It looks to me like they are getting them some sort of yellow pages. The page that come up dont have good page rank.


 3:37 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

So if my service related site is in a large metro area like LA or New York, do I need multiple domains with various addresses, or do I just list all the pertinent zip codes?


 3:41 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

In one article, Google mentions that they will be unveiling special PPC programs for this search. I guess if you serve multiple areas then you'll have to PPC.


 3:43 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

sasha, do you have the same address as your competitors? We generate this data from multiple sources, including Yellow Pages data as well as from the web. The web gives us more comprehensiveness whereas the Yellow Pages gives us more precision. Results show up at local.google.com, but they can also show up in the main search for queries like pizza palo alto.

Remember that this is still a beta, but local search is something that I'm really excited about. Our infrastructure is flexible enough to integrate geographical information into our index. And geo info is a lot of fun to play with. :)


 3:52 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Yellow Pages
I wonder, which yellow pages.


 3:52 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

A very interesting alternative to the the 'traditional' online business directories, who must be watching the proceedings with great interest.

Definately one to keep an eye on methinks.



 3:58 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Here's the official news of Google's integration of local search results [google.com]


 4:00 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've fooled around with the location search for a few months.

Still see some very relevant sites missing in my mid-size town and wonder why some of the 'directory-type' sites are getting chosen for reference.

Any thoughts about incorporating the information from the Google Directory Regional categories?


 4:12 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I saw this posted elsewhere but think of it this way. We have Google News, Froogle, Definitions, sponsored and Local (plus others). The organic results keep on getting pushed down.

Will the rumored new google design make all this information manageable on one page?


 4:18 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

seems to work.

Related suggestion:

Google should start extending the syntax of the web.


Google starts reading and understand a location definition syntax in the meta tag. Some version of longitude / latitude. Maybe with added by a size parameter. But those are details.

Webmasters would include this location data very very swiftly. And it is much easier to parse. And out of the sudden, there would be a location definition standard for webpages. Which is something that is nice.
Leaving this kind of thing up to a comity would mean, that its standards would be useless: The continental drift would make its proposals useless, before they come up with a standard.

But if google would start using /any/ definition and make the tools to create those coordinates public & available, then there would be a working system within a month or two.

Google still treats the internet, as if it would not exist. Much like there are rarely people watching TV in TV shows. In the case of google this leaves out some significant potential: Since Search Engines guide almost all of the traffic, they might as well extend the syntax of the web.


 4:18 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)


Now I can find hotels without having to fight through pages of spammed-out results. Please do not offense my WebmasterWorld friends.

Excellent work GG!


 4:23 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Time to call the Yellow Pages sales rep. :)

>>Will the rumored new google design make all this information manageable on one page?

I'm running the 'new design' cookie on one machine. Local results look just like the Froogle/News inserts.


 4:29 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google Guy, we are in a 30 story professional building full of people who do similar work.

Obviously the building address is the same, BUT NOT THE SUITE/ROOM ADDRESS!

Google just picked up the building's address and decided to give some people in my building MY URL!

It definitely ain't fun. I can tell you that much.

You should fix this before you get swamped with lawsuits. I MEAN THAT.

I can email you the google page link if you like.


 4:35 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

It definitely ain't fun. I can tell you that much.

You should fix this before you get swamped with lawsuits. I MEAN THAT.

Are these comments needed?


 4:37 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

sasha, [local.google.com...]

"My local business is listed, but the information is woefully incorrect. Who will right this wrong?

Google Local gathers information from a variety of sources including web sites and Yellow Pages directories. To update your business listings in the Yellow Pages, send an email to local-listings@google.com and we'll forward the information to the directory sources we use. For incorrect information on web pages, please review Google Information for Webmasters."


 4:51 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

It's a fantastic feature.

I imagine though, it could be the death knell to many hotel directory websites as it will probably claim a lot of local hotel searches.

One thing I would like to know more about. Where do the "Related web pages" entries come from?

Example: The local search/"related web pages" listings are very different from the regular google results for "hotels <city> <state>"

[edited by: johannamck at 4:54 pm (utc) on Mar. 17, 2004]


 4:52 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>We generate this data from multiple sources, including Yellow Pages data as well as from the web.

So are the usual roundup of algos at work on the ranking of the local listings or is it a proximity ranking only?


 6:25 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is a start. However the big weakness is that Google has no way of distinguishing local urls (URLS that represent a location on the ground) from URL that reference local information. So while 'hotels cityname' provides better results that regular google, it still provide links to directories as opposed to the hotel's website.

The query 'hotels pasadena' returns all incorrect URL matches. Hilton points to Hoovers.com, and Radisson points to pubcrawler.com for example.

Google needs to cross reference the YP matches with a list of URLS with latlong information in order to show www.hilton.com and www.radisson.com for the hotels Hilton and Radisson.

Of course I am bias as I provide this list of URLS and physical locations. :)

As an interesting note, only 3% of web pages by count are from websites with a physical location (retail or business), and 97% are not. Until you can separate these results, the majority of results will be from sites which are not physically located in the area.

Initially our business plan was to sell geosigns aka Verisigns which would certify the geographic location for a business and would be free to all search engines to use to help provide valid results. The Internet crash and lack of any interest for local search in 2000 caused this to be abandoned in favor of our current business plan. The nice thing about Geosigns are that they are spam proof. A business cannot show up for a seach for 'widgets pasadena' unless they are in pasadena, and its unlikely someone will rent an office, get a phone, arrange mail delivery just to spoof a search engine.

PS At least a local search will help the query 'Paris Hilton' be much more relevant

Tim Nye
The Local Search Guy

PS If this is considered a plug - I apologize but I wanted to give a reference to this url list being available to prove it a viable solution. Feel free to edit me :)


 6:35 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

One more note in reference to people's address information being incorrect. Traditional YP data that Google is licensing is at best 85% accurate, so on 12MM records, that is a lot of errors. Most files are worse than this.

No one ever complained about the Yellow Pages being out of date since people understood the idea of change and publshing dates, but for local search online, everyone expects the information to change immediately. This is unfair since Google has to use offline sources as their source.

Tim Nye
The Local Guy


 7:19 pm on Mar 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

I see they took down the whole thing.

It's a beta, so availability will be hit and miss. But local.google.com is not down (at this moment), and I still see the local tool available -- sometimes on the regular Google.com, and sometimes only after toggling to the new look.

I don't know if I think this is a flaw or not, but the SERPs are different if you type in just the zip code, as compared to just the city name ... and different yet again if you search for the city name and the zip. That's odd.

And the location information changes, too. Type in the zip code, and one client is .1 miles away. Type in the city name and suddenly they're .7 miles away. Hmmmmm.......

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