Local search is the use of specialized Internet search engines that allow users to submit geographically constrained searches against a structured database of local business listings. Typical local search queries include not only information about “what” the site visitor is searching for (such as keywords, a business category, or the name of a consumer product) but also “where” information, such as a street address, city name, postal code, or geographic coordinates like latitude and longitude. Examples of local searches include “Hong Kong hotels”, “Manhattan restaurants”, and “Dublin car rental”. Local searches exhibit explicit or implicit local intent.A search that includes a location modifier, such as “Bellevue, WA” or “14th arrondissement”, is an explicit local search. A search that references a product or service that is typically consumed locally, such as “restaurant” or “nail salon”, is an implicit local search.
Local searches typically trigger Google to return organic results and a local 3-pack. More local results can be obtained by clicking on “more places” under the 3-pack. The list of results one obtains is also called the Local Finder.
Search engines and directories are primarily supported by advertising from businesses that wish to be prominently featured when users search for specific products and services in specific locations. Google for instance, has developed local inventory ads and features ads in the local pack. Local search advertising can be highly effective because it allows ads to be targeted very precisely to the search terms and location provided by the user.Traditional local media companies, including newspaper publishers and television and radio broadcasters, are starting to add local search to their local websites in an effort to attract their share of local search traffic and advertising revenues in the markets they serve. These local media companies either develop their own technology or license “private label” or “white label” local search solutions from third-party local search solution providers. In either case, local media companies base their solution on business listings databases developed in-house or licensed from a third-party data publisher.Local search that incorporates internal or external social signals could be considered social local search driven. The first site to incorporate this type of search was Explore To Yellow Pages. Explore To uses Facebook Likes as one of the signals to increase the ranking of listings where other factors may be equal or almost equal. Typical ranking signals in local search, such as keyword relevancy and distance from centroid can therefore be layered with these social signals to give a better crowdsourced experience for users. More recently, social media sites Facebook, Foursquare, LocalMate and Zappenin have become more directly involved in local search by updating their mobile apps with features to help people discover new businesses to visit.Several providers have been experimenting with providing local search for mobile devices. Some of these are location aware. In the United States, Google previously operated an experimental voice-based locative service (1-800-GOOG-411) but terminated the service in November, 2010. Many mobile web portals require the subscriber to download a small Java application, however the recently added .mobi top level domain has given impetus to the development of mobile targeted search sites are based upon a standard mobile specific XML protocol that all modern mobile browsers understand. The advantage is that no software needs to be downloaded and installed, plus these sites may be designed to simultaneously provide conventional content to traditional PC users by means of automatic browser detection.