Google announced a new kind of search result called Place Search today. These results can be accessed from the new "Places" option in the left panel on Google search results pages, but unlike many of the other search options available in the panel, Google will actually return you these results for queries automatically, when it thinks you are looking for local information.
Place Search results are marked with red pins, much like you're used to seeing on Google Maps.
Obviously, this is great news for local businesses, or at least the ones that are optimized for local search. For those who aren't, this would appear to symbolize a crucial time to starting placing more focus on this area.
"We've made results like this possible by developing technology to better understand places," explains Product Manager Jackie Bavaro. "With Place Search, we're dynamically connecting hundreds of millions of websites with more than 50 million real-world locations. We automatically identify when sites are talking about physical places and cluster links even when they don't provide addresses and use different names ('stubb's bbq' is the same as 'stubbs bar-b-que')."
"One of the great things about our approach is that it makes it easier to find a comprehensive view of each place," adds Bavaro. "In our new layout you’ll find many more relevant links on a single results page—often 30 or 40. Instead of doing eight or 10 searches, often you'll get to the sites you're looking for with just one search. In our testing Place Search saves people an average of two seconds on searches for local information."
If Google uses location info from mobile devices along with this, it could make mobile search much more powerful and useful by simply saving time. Usually, when you're on the go, anything that saves time is helpful.
The feature is only starting to roll out, so if you don't have access to it just yet, you can check it out here.