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AOL is also teaming with Fast Search & Transfer, in an effort to expand its local search services and results. The idea is to provide users with more customized results based on their geographic locations. For example, a user living in Los Angeles may type "Italian restaurant" into the search box, and Los Angeles-based Italian restaurants would be the first to appear in the query results. No release date has been set.
As part of that effort, AOL is also making a push to attract local advertisers by offering them a means to get further insight into which geographic locations their customers are coming from. AOL, via its partnership with Ingenio, will allow advertisers to pay for their ads based on whether a prospective customer calls them by phone after viewing their advertisement, rather than paying AOL based on which customers click on their ads.
AOL's deal with Fast, a Norwegian company with US operations in Needham, underscored Google's vulnerability in niche fields such as geographic-based search.
"It's surprising that Google's local search product wasn't considered good enough," said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch, a website that tracks the search industry. "AOL wants to partner up with whoever gives them the best results in a specific area."
AOL, a unit of Time Warner Inc., already offers search in conjunction with its local content such as CityGuide, MapQuest, Moviefone, and AOL Yellow Pages. Its local search update will pool all the data and create a more intuitive search experience for members, said Gerry Campbell, general manager and vice president of search and navigation for AOL in Dulles, Va. "When you start with a geographically focused Web crawl, the local relevance will be much higher," Campbell said. "The Web is at the point now where there's lots of great information in everybody's area."
AOL has the advantage of a built-in base of 22.7 million US members for its online service.
Good, Boston.com Article [boston.com]