Local search is currently one of the fiercest battlegrounds on the Web, which means we can expect nothing less from Google than its best shot. That’s exactly what it fired this week with the unveiling of Place Search, the new feature from Google Places – formerly the Google Local Business Center.
Place Search is rolling out in more than 40 different languages this week, offering enhanced functionality for users and increased visibility for millions of local businesses. A search query for sushi in Chicago, for instance, will yield the familiar Google Map marked with red pins, but will also contain more relevant information than previous searches and often as many as 40 links related to individual restaurants on a single results page.
The new information is presented clearly and can be easily digested by users to make quick and easy comparisons, saving an average of two seconds per search during the testing phase. Place Search results will also appear automatically when Google’s technology predicts the user is looking for local information, but there will be a new link for Places on the left-hand panel of the standard search page to activate the local search feature.
There are more than 50 million locations in Google’s Place Search database, which places it high among the multitude of local information services provided by Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, Gowalla and many others.