Culture

Think local, act Google

The search giant polishes up its local search service by simplifying the site's layout and enhancing query results with detailed maps.

Google polished up its relatively new local search service Tuesday by simplifying the site's layout and enhancing query results with detailed maps. Still only in test form, Google Local lets people search for addresses or information on shops, businesses or landmarks. Because the service draws on vast amounts of Web data, it had previously served more inexact answers to user queries. Now, Google Local delivers more precise query matches, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said, and it displays maps of businesses within the list of results. Web surfers can zoom in and out of the maps without refreshing the page, too.

Google, the No. 1 search service, has stiff competition from rival Yahoo. Yahoo recently updated its local-search service with editorial reviews, ratings and detailed information about businesses found using Yahoo Local. The Web portal has also featured local maps that let people view an address and its surrounding businesses, such as hotels, restaurants and parking lots.