by December 1, 2010 0 comments

Location Based Services (LBS) such as Facebook Places, Foursquare, Yelp, etc have started to make lots of noises recently. And technology companies are trying to tap into the value of real-time and locally-served advertising, made possible by smart devices. LBS come handy while identifying the location of a person or things such as discovering the nearest cash-out machine or even the whereabouts of a friend. Recently Google rolled out a service called Google Places which makes it easy to locate an activity, a restaurant, etc around you.

Smart search for places

If you love discovering new places, from coffee shops in your neighborhood to the historical monuments around the world, Google Place Search will assist you. Under Place Search, Google users can search for an activity in a certain place, or a restaurant, and the list of results will show all the places in that location. Google search engine identifies your IP address and location and returns localized results, if it thinks your query is about a place. So, if a customer enters ‘Pizza’ in Google, the search engine will figure out his IP address and location and returns localized results. Place Search organizes the world’s information around places and delivers search results more efficiently. The new search results are clustered around specific locations so you can easily make comparisons and zero in on where to go.

The new search results are marked with red pins (like you’re used to seeing on Google Maps) and each one is a unique entity with relevant information and links from across the web. Alongside the usual linear list of search results, a Google map will also appear, with a series of red pins, showing the locations on it. You can click on the list of displayed review sites and get to the relevant page. Here, information is grouped conveniently to make it easier for you to get to the right link. In the past, the same search would return links with information on your search query in different parts of the results page. The new search results can be accessed from the new ‘Places’ option in the left panel on Google search result pages.
The initiative from Google leaves behind an implication for businesses to implement a local search, online review, and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to achieve prominent visibility in the results Google display for location specific searches. Obviously, this is great news for local businesses, or at least the ones that are optimized for local search. For those who aren’t, this would symbolize a crucial time to start placing more focus on this area.

Instant search results
Google has made a radical change in the way it displays search results. You can call it as an extension of Google Suggest, the new feature dubbed as Google Instant displays results instantly based on what you’ve typed into the search box, produces suggestions and tries to finish off your search for you with greyed out text. Essentially when you start to type in your search terms, it instantly takes what you have typed already, predicts the most likely completion and streams results in real-time for those predictions -leading a smarter and faster search that is predictive, interactive, and powerful. The top prediction is shown in grey text directly in the search box, so you can stop typing and scroll down to the relevant keywords and hit Enter.
The new Google technology makes search more interactive and helps you find information more quickly and easily. Instant now powers Google Books, Videos, Blogs and Updates. Google Instant also supports keyboard shortcuts to help navigate through search results, according to Google.
All said, Google Instant offers instantaneous results and not necessarily better results. You may find results that are not relevant at all. However, you can ignore the results and finish typing your search terms to get better results.

Using photos to search the Web

Goggles, released sometime back by Google, lets you use pictures taken with your mobile phone to search the web. It’s ideal for things that aren’t easy to describe in words. There’s no need to type or speak your query –all you have to do is open the app, snap a picture, and look for search results.
Google Goggles works better with certain kinds of queries. This includes pictures of books & DVDs, landmarks, logos, contact info, businesses, barcodes, and products. It can recognize up to three items at a time. Currently, it’s not that good when taking pictures of animals, cars, furniture, plants, or apparel. The photo search tool is currently available for Android devices running Android 1.6 and above. It’s also available for iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 devices through the Google Mobile App.

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