Google Local: Finally Up To Yahoo Speed

    March 18, 2004

Google graduated their local search to beta yesterday with the launch of Google Local. Google crosschecks their index with the Yellow Pages to deliver local stores and services.

Google Tagets 5 & Dimes
Google Tagets 5 & Dimes

If you want to add your business listing to the Yellow Pages you can send an email to

Share your thoughts about the new Google Local search.

One interesting personalization touch here – you can save your locations so that you don’t have to type in your zip code every time you search locally.

Marissa Mayer, in an interview with SearchDay, touts their integration of web results and phonebook-style listings: “you can not only see the businesses but also what everyone else is saying about the business.”

“To my knowledge,” she told SearchDay, “this doesn’t exist anywhere else on the web.”

Last week I wrote that Yahoo’s ahead in the local search race because of their SmartView launch. They were already ahead before SmartView though. At that time Google relegated local search to their laboratory and even had some Yahoo Maps results showing up for certain search terms.

It’s pretty clear to me that Google’s taken the lead in local now – especially considering the level to which they’ve integrated their local search into their main search page.

If I search for “Pizza 40204” Yahoo doesn’t know to give me their local listings. I have to type “Pizza Louisville, KY 40204”

Not that Google’s got it all figured out – “Pizza 40204” brings up 3 listings from Wicks (awesome pizza if you’re ever in Louisville) on the main results page. There are three different phone numbers listed though, which is probably what’s throwing Google off there.

For all you blackhat local SEOs out there (a burgeoning field I’m sure), go ahead and purchase multiple phone numbers for a business and you’ll dominate the top local listings for the next week and a half 😉

And here’s a little more beef for Google – when I click through to see all the local listings on that “Pizza 40204” search the 4th spot belongs to La Bamba Mexican Restaurant. A fine establishment (burritos as big as your head!) but not quite pizza.

But what really differentiates Google from Yahoo now? Because Yahoo already offered local results from their Yellow Pages listings. The only difference I can see lies on the results for individual establishments.

When I click on one of Wick’s local listings in Google I go to a page with a map and some results the Google algo thinks I should see (most of which appeared to be phone numbers and addresses). This improves convenience, but what Google has mostly done here is gotten up to speed with Yahoo local.

What this means for those of you with brick and mortar businesses is that you need coverage in your local online press, as well as reviews on other local-related sites so that when people search for your company they can have more help in evaluating your services.

What do you think differentiates Yahoo local from Google?

Garrett French is the editor of iEntry’s eBusiness channel. You can talk to him directly at WebProWorld, the eBusiness Community Forum.