Google Goes Local with Beta Search

Google has taken live on its homepage a new service for locating local businesses, which scours millions of Web pages and crosschecks the results with the Yellow Pages data. Google Local was previously part of the company's Google Labs development sandbox, but has now been deemed ready for widespread use.

One example cited by Google is using the service to find an auto parts store within walking distance. Google Local shows results on an area map, and can limit results to a specific distance from a user's starting point. For frequent local searchers, Google remembers the location in which to look.

Although the service currently only works in the United States and Canada, Google plans to expand its reach in due time. The company also expects to provide a way for businesses to add themselves directly to the search results.

While it is still in beta testing, Google may have felt added pressure to make its local search more widely accessible from the main homepage. Rival recently upgraded its Yellow Pages search with pictures for businesses in certain cities, and MSN this week launched a completely rebuilt search engine.

AOL also unveiled local searches of its own last month that make use of its AOL CityGuide content.

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