Google brings local search to Britain

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Web search leader Google, locked in fierce rivalry with Yahoo, launched a local search service in Britain on Tuesday, including maps and driving directions, marking its first such offering in Europe.Google also unveiled a mobile phone search service that works with key British operators through SMS text messages, and which will include specific local information when asked. Phone users will be charged with normal SMS text tariffs.
Local search is offered in a cooperation with British commercial telephone directory company Yell, which provides the business phone numbers and addresses.
“It’s the first time we’re bringing local search to a country outside North America,” said Kate Burns, ad sales and operations manager for Google in Britain, declining to give details about launches elsewhere in Europe.
“We take our European audience very seriously, (but) we’ve got nothing to announce this time,” she said.
Local search is a high priority for Web search providers, who are eager to capture new advertising niches.
Global search advertising revenue is estimated to rise to $7.9 billion (4.1 billion) in 2005 from $5.5 billion in 2004, with most of the growth coming from international expansion and higher volume, U.S. investment bank Piper Jaffray estimates.
The local search results, which shows on the top of www.google.co.uk pages when search words are combined with locations or postal codes, uses Google’s own mapping software.
The cooperation with a telephone directories company is unique to Britain, Burns said.
In the United States Google has recently added reviews and other information, such as business hours, restaurant menus and hotel amenities when searching for local information.
The Internet search company, which has nine regional sales offices in Europe, makes money through advertising and has recently started selling local ads for local searches.

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