Google refreshes local search results

Google rolled out a new feature called "Place Search" on Wednesday to make it easier for users to find information about local businesses.

Place Search eliminates the need to perform several Internet searches by grouping multiple results about a specific location into one entry.

A search result for a particular type of restaurant, for example, may list several relevant local eateries and provide an address, a map, a photo, links to reviews from sites such as Yelp.com and other relevant information.

"It makes it easier to find a comprehensive view of each place," Google product manager Jackie Bavaro said in a blog post.

"In our new layout you'll find many more relevant links on a single results page - often 30 or 40," Bavaro said. "Instead of doing eight or 10 searches, often you'll get to the sites you're looking for with just one search."

She said testing had found that Place Search saves users an average of two seconds on searches for local information.

"More than 20 percent of the searches on Google today are related to location, that's people looking for doctors, or museums or a park to take their kids," Bavaro added in a telephone interview with AFP.

"It's a really important area of investment for us."

Google said Place Search results will appear automatically when Google's search engine predicts a user is looking for local information.

A user can also switch to Place Search by using a new "Places" link on the left-hand side of the search results page.

"With Place Search, we're dynamically connecting hundreds of millions of websites with more than 50 million real-world locations," Bavaro said.

"We automatically identify when sites are talking about physical places and cluster links even when they don't provide addresses and use different names," she said.

Google said Place Search will be available globally in over 40 languages in the next few days and the Mountain View, California-based company is working to make it available soon on mobile devices.

On Monday, Google announced a program called Google Boost which makes it easier for local businesses to place advertisments alongside search results for local information.

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