Yahoo tries to hit closer to home with local search

Yahoo unveils beta version of its Local search tool

LONDON - Not to be outdone by search rivals who have rolled out products to help users find information closer to home, Yahoo Inc. unveiled a beta-test version of its Local search tool on Tuesday.

Yahoo Local, at http://local.yahoo.com, leverages the company's search technology, Yellow Pages and Maps listings to serve up information and results tailored to specific neighborhoods. Users can enter an address, city, state or zip code into a search pane on the Local site to zoom in on an Italian restaurant, or hairdressers in their neighborhood, for example.

The beta was launched for the U.S. market and a Yahoo spokeswoman in London said that no plans have been made yet to offer the tool in other markets.

Users can refine their searches according to distance, rating, category and other factors, and can save their most frequently used locations to view recently searched information, Yahoo said.

The Local offering was introduced the same day Ask Jeeves Inc. said it would be introducing a local business search tool through a licensing deal with IAC/InterActiveCorp.'s Citysearch unit. Google Inc. also has a local offering that delivers results within certain geographical parameters. Furthermore, Microsoft Corp. has expressed an interest in getting cozy with users when it comes to search, and recently began offering a beta service on MSNBC.com that delivers personalized news.

Yahoo's new offering isn't the Sunnyvale, California, company's first foray into local search, however. In March, it added local attraction search to Yahoo Maps, allowing users to locate neighborhood destinations such as movie theaters, hotels and cash machines on a map display. The visual search tool, dubbed SmartView, is also integrated into Yahoo Local.

The company is hoping to make its local offering stand out by adding extra features, such as the ability to make reservations for hotels and restaurants using the tool, and by adding a rate and review feature where users can sound off, giving their opinions on certain establishments.

REFERENCES:
Ask Jeeves goes local with Citysearch, Aug. 3, 2004
Google offers new local search service, Mar. 17, 2004
Yahoo adds local attraction search to maps, Mar. 9, 2004
Microsoft guns for Google on news search, Jul. 27, 2004

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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