Like the old adage that all politics are local, Google Inc. is telling users today that all Web searches are local, too.
Google announced yesterday that it had just finished a global rollout of an update to its Google search engine that can automatically guess user locations to provide local results for anything from restaurants to doctors and garden nurseries, along with maps of each location.
“We try to make our guesses as good as they can be so that whether you're shopping for groceries, sporting goods or flowers, or looking for your bank, your gym or the post office, you can just say what you want, and we'll try to find it right where you are,” wrote Google software engineers Jenn Taylor and Jim Muller in a blog post. “You can also search for specific stores or street addresses near you.”
Google has given users results on a map, but only if the location was noted in the search, like “Italian restaurant in Portland, Maine.” Now, however, local searches will appear even if the user doesn't specify a location.
Taylor and Muller pointed out in their blog that Google will match your IP address to a general location and use that as a basis for the local search when locations aren't included in queries. There will also be a “Change Location” link in the upper-right corner of the page and users can click on that to specify a certain location.
In February, the company launched Google Latitude, an upgrade to Google Maps that allows people to track the exact location of friends or family through their mobile devices. Google Latitude not only shows the location of friends, but it can also be used to contact them via SMS, Google Talk or Gmail.
Then about a week after news of Google Latitude came out, the company announced that its Gmail software can now show the location of e-mail writers. That new feature also uses IP addresses to guess at the general location of senders.