Yahoo Enhances Local Search

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

Yahoo Local 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 representative in London says the search engine firm has no plans 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, according to Yahoo.

Local Search Rivalry

The Yahoo Local offering is being introduced the same day Ask Jeeves announced it will introduce a local business search tool through a licensing deal with IAC/InterActiveCorp's Citysearch unit. Google also has a local offering that delivers results within certain geographical parameters. Furthermore, Microsoft has expressed an interest in getting cozy with users when it comes to search, and recently began offering a beta service on that delivers personalized news.

Yahoo's new offering isn't the Sunnyvale, California, company's first foray into local search, however. It has enhanced several services, such as adding local attraction search to Yahoo Maps so users can 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.

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