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10/26/2010
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Google Going Local With Place Search

In recognition of the growing importance of local information, Google is offering search results organized around specific places.

Google on Wednesday said it plans to introduce Place Search, a geo-centric format for search results. The idea is to organize search results around a specific location, a service that's particularly valuable for those conducting searches through mobile devices.

Mobile search is becoming an increasingly important business for Google. During its recent Q3 financial call, SVP Jonathan Rosenberg revealed that the annual run-rate for mobile advertising at Google had reached $1 billion.

Google will be presenting Place Search results when its systems determine that the user is looking for local information or when the user explicitly selects the new Places pin icon in Google's left-hand column search refinement menu.

Place Search results include a pin icon that takes the user directly to a Google Maps Place Page, alongside traditional links that lead to a specific Web site. A Google Map showing the location of each place in the search results list runs on the right-hand side of the search results page.

The Place Search launch follows Google's announcement on Tuesday that images taken as part of its pilot project to gather interior photos of businesses are now available on Place Pages. While Google's effort to gather exterior images for its Street View service continues to provoke privacy complaints, the company's assembly of images of the interiors of businesses hasn't proven to be nearly as controversial.

In a draft blog post provided by Google, product manager Jackie Bavaro says that Place Search results pages include more links than a typical results page, which can help save time for users conducting local searches. Bavaro says that tests show local search users saving about two seconds on average.

Google plans to roll out Place Search globally over the next few days in over 40 languages.

Update: Corrected misstatement about Place Search Pages having fewer search results.

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