Local Hero: Google Ups the Ante With Place Search
Search advancements at Google continue apace, with the company rolling out a steady parade of tweaks and enhancements. Last month, it was Google Instant–real-time search results as you type. This month it’s Place Search, a new way to present search results for local queries.
Essentially, Place Search delivers location-specific search results by organizing content from across the Web around a place, much like Google News aggregates news information around a particular story. And, according to Google, that will make it that much faster and easier for its users to get local information, which they are increasingly looking for. The company says that about 20 percent of searches conducted on Google are local in terms of their overall intent. And it’s so confident of that metric that for queries that have a very heavy and clear local intent, it will automatically switch users into the Place Search mode.
“This is all about contextual discovery,” Marissa Mayer, the company’s VP of geographic and local services, told me this morning. “Think of it this way, as another layer of the Web. One of the first layers of the Web was the content of the Web itself. You looked at a Web page and analyzed its content. That was the purpose of our original search product. Another layer is social–what are the social aspects of the Web? What are the ‘people’ aspects of the Web? Who created this page? Who read it? Did they like it or not? Do I know them?
“Now, we’ve got another fundamental layer: Location. Where was this page authored? Is it about a particular location? Where are the people who this page is relevant to? You start combining these layers–content, social, local–and you get something very powerful.”
Indeed. Particularly in the mobile space, at which Places is very clearly aimed.
Place Search is rolling out now and should be available globally in the next few days.