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Google Adds Location Targeted Searching 326

miradu writes "Many Slashdot users may remember that the winner of last year's Google programming contest's entry was a location specific search. Now, Google has made a version of Daniel's idea available to use on Google Labs. Google Search By Location lets you search for things near some zipcode, or city/state. It then gives you a map with each search result pinned on it. V"
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Google Adds Location Targeted Searching

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  • Useful service (Score:5, Interesting)

    by esconsult1 ( 203878 ) * on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:45PM (#7034877) Homepage Journal
    Is google going to eventually require some kind of stripped down registration for this service? They've slowly (over the past year or so), started to roll out a pervasive registration for their various services (Adsense, Adwords), and optional registration would make sense here too.

    On the other side of things, Google stands to make a killing here. Google can sell a new class of ads to people like plumbers, who don't need a webpage. In fact, they could possibly host a minimal web page for those kind of advertisers who just want to show some simple text and services.

    Hey, perhaps Google wants to give me some kind of idea fee???

    • You have an excellent idea. Beyond plumbers, electricians, contractors, and even grocery stores and pharmacies could advertise like this if it wasn't too expensive. But asking for an idea fee...well, I think there'll be some outdoor ice skating in the middle of the rain forest before we see the fee paid.
    • Re:Useful service (Score:2, Interesting)

      by thedillybar ( 677116 )
      This is a wonderful idea. Sites like Yahoo [yahoo.com] already have Yellow Pages [yahoo.com] that do similar things. Hopefully Google [google.com] can make it even better. I definitely believe MapQuest [mapquest.com] is a big improvement over Yahoo Maps [yahoo.com]. Nice to see that Google has started out small (just search engine), made their services FAR better than any competitor, and are now, finally, expanding.
    • by u01000101 ( 574295 ) <u01000101@yahoo.com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:56PM (#7034994) Homepage
      On the other side of things, Google stands to make a killing here. Google can sell a new class of ads to people like plumbers, who don't need a webpage.

      Wait, I have a better idea: why not put together a collection of local info (maybe print it also) and call that, say, Yellow Pages? :-)

      In other words, I call "prior art".

    • Already done... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cnelzie ( 451984 )
      Check out www.smartpages.com

      It is an online yellow pages. Each listed company has a small 'web-page' that provides a link to the actual external web-page, if available, as well as a mapquest map, address and main contact phone number.

      I use that site ALL the time looking up potential service vendors for the company I work for.
      • And we are soon to start seeking businesses to be listed at www.gonumber.net. Some initial customers can be seen at GoNumber.net/hot [gonumber.net]. The major upgrade we are working on is based on Open Source too and will offer the kind of affordable location based listings small businesses desire - photos included.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:46PM (#7034881)
    How come when I search for the location of "Hot single geek chicks" there are no results found?
  • But wouldnt be cool to see this applyed to
    more then just the US?

    With all the talk about Google being
    'The' serch engine, id love to see
    something like this applyed on a
    world wide base.

    mind you not knowing how it works
    it may require ppl to put decent
    contact info on there pages,
    ie country name.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Since it's still in the labs, it's still an experimental project. They may eventually abandon the idea, or they may take it mainstream. Google News started out with a US-centric version, and has since expanded to cover a number of other countries.
    • It's still just a try - you can't see it on the usual Google search page (like you can see web, groups, images, news..), it's in the Labs at the moment. And I guess the group of people willing to try it out, to test it, is large enough.

      Unfortunately.. I'd love to see it world wide as well.
    • On behalf of all europeans:
      Google is US-centric!

      Ok serious: This is a beta thing, and second they probably want to roll it out in a area where its easier to sell ads based on location.

    • The UK already has this (kind of). www.upmystreet.com.
    • The logic that fishes addresses out of web pages might not be as flexible as you think. There might be quite a lot of work involved in making it work for different places in the US. Each other nation may require a lot of customization as well.
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:48PM (#7034905) Homepage Journal

    It's a great idea but the heuristics need work:

    "Your search for money grubbing scumbags near Lindon, UT did not match any documents within 15 miles."
  • by bflong ( 107195 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:48PM (#7034907)
    Server Error
    The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request.
    Please try again in a minute or so.

    Does anyone have a link to the google cache of this page?

    er.... nevermind...
  • What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    From the end of the article: "V" ????...
  • Uh Oh (Score:3, Funny)

    by baldass_newbie ( 136609 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:50PM (#7034927) Homepage Journal
    I was searching for a non-slashdotted version near me when it borked.
  • At first, I thought this was going to function by mapping the web server IP address to a geological location. This is much better. It is a logical extension from the feature where Google gives you street addresses when you search on business, etc. This could be really useful for finding local clubs and organizations that share a common interest.
  • by Thinkit3 ( 671998 ) * on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:51PM (#7034934)
    Once GPS becames much more universal, it would be great for us all to move to latitude and longitude. That's a truly international standard.
    • I'd think GPS would have to be damn near ubiquitous for that to work. Which would require that education be improved so that graduating seniors actually knew what lat/long is.

      I'm not going to hold my breath on that one. Give it a hundred years or so.
    • Well, no I don't think it would be more elegant. Latitude and longitude tell you where something is located, it doesn't tell you how to get there. "On Adams street, just north of McAlister", will always be more usefull to humans than 35.31234' N 108.47343' W (and we would need that many decimal places). That, however, does not mean that the underlying implementation can't use lat, long.
  • Would it be more effective for a small business that depends on local business (such as a house roofing or a plumbing company) to have a business name and a website that includes the name of the city? For example, "www.dallasplumbing.com" or www.dallas-plumbing.com? Which would be better at getting higher up in the google query? It would seem that with this IP location factor in the query that maybe such a URL scheme would be effective? Your opinions, please.....
  • by Peterus7 ( 607982 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:53PM (#7034961) Homepage Journal
    What next, Google-RIAA search; 'enter a kazaa username and google will give you the IP address, personal information, credit card number, and home address of the user!'

    or, using google-patriot act search, type in a person's name, and you get all the secret cameras in their home, their entire geneology, pictures from their past, and other weird things that only the conspiracy theorists know...

    Or, even better, using google for moms, a google that scans the computer for cookies to find out what site her kid has been visiting via a cookie scan or something.

    I dunno, but eventually it's going to seem like an invasion of privacy with these search engines, but then again, once you put something online without any protection, it *is* public domain.

    • Yeah, let's try that (Score:2, Interesting)

      by michiel.h ( 570138 )

      What next, Google-RIAA search; 'enter a kazaa username and google will give you the IP address, personal information, credit card number, and home address of the user!'

      Alright, let's try that.
      First, a quick search of most active username on kazaa.
      Ah, there we have it. Now, let's find some info on this bastard.

      -- --
      Google 'Search by location' search term: kazaaliteuser@kazaa.com
      Google 'Search by location' region: USA

      Google found 2.304.942 search results:


      A. Allan
      1425 21st Street

  • Yahoo Yellow Pages (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:53PM (#7034967) Journal
    How is this different from Yahoo Yellow Pages ( http://yp.yahoo.com [yahoo.com])? I've been using that service for half a decade. It searches by zipcode / address as well.

    Dan East
    • by Andorion ( 526481 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @01:02PM (#7035065)
      Yahoo only shows Yellow Pages listings - the Google search basically finds *web pages* with some reference to that location with the search words in it.

    • by coinreturn ( 617535 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @01:07PM (#7035109)
      How is this different from Yahoo Yellow Pages?

      Um, quite a bit of difference, theoretically. How about searching for parks, lakes, fire hydrants, mailboxes, phone booths, one-way streets, registered sex offenders, gullible people, etc.
    • by pavon ( 30274 ) *
      Well from what I can tell it doesn't just look in the yellow pages. For example I think I could do a search for linux, and it would display any addresses in my area that appeared on a linux website. Or I could search for the words "sale", and "shoes".

      Unfortunately, I was about to try some searches to see what other usefull things it could do other than yellow pages searches, when the site came to grinding halt. Sure enough, the story had just made the front page for non subscribers :)

      For yellow page type
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:54PM (#7034973)
    goats near Christmas Island is too disturbing for me.
  • That sure didn't take long.

    I wonder if it's because the feature needs performance tuning, or if it simply hasn't been deployed to handle a Slashdotting's worth of load yet.

    Either way, I'm sure it'll be a learning experience for the project team.

    Given Google's amazing general search capability, though, I won't be prepared to call this new Location feature a comparable success until I can search for "winning lottery ticket" near my zip code and get driving directions...

  • by ahfoo ( 223186 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:56PM (#7034997) Journal
    That would be a trip.
    I tried the search and it failed on my quite a few times, but the potential is huge. The first thing that came to my mind was real estate.
    I've gone out looking for land with realtors that can't even find the lots they're supposed to be showing, and look how much they take in transaction fees for their "service." It' not like they do the Escrow themselves. I suppose it's a bit different for houses, but for land sales they act like they're doing you a favor.
    Not only that, but I've gone in with aerial photos and maps from the County that all come off of county maintained computer databases and the realtors inevitably insist their little hand drawn map that doesn't even accurately map the parcels is the more accurate solution.
    This could be the beginning of something huge for Google.
  • by s88 ( 255181 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:58PM (#7035017) Homepage
    How many posts are going to say "OMG we slashdotted google." This clearly is not running on there huge cluster. Its probably just a single server or something. Settle down, pigs are not flying.

  • Already got it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spudley ( 171066 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:58PM (#7035023) Homepage Journal
    Here in the UK, you can use Multimap [multimap.co.uk] to acheive something close to this.

    Multimap's main use is simple as an online map, and it's used heavily here in the UK, but they do show pin-marks on the location of any services they know about.

    They only show links to certain categories of service (hotels, and the like), but limited though it is, the search by location service has been available for some time.
    • Multimap is truly awesome... I started using it when I planned my trip to Ireland/England back in 2001. I really like the aerial map overlay feature... Using that, I was able to memorize what certain parts of London would look like, which allowed me to find my way around often times without a map. It was a weird feeling being able to find my way around without having been there before. :^)
    • Yahoo Yellow Pages also does a similar thing.

      The novel part is that it gleans all of its information from web pages. Not from listing services with well formatted address fields.
  • I searched for "used video games" and "Raleigh, NC" and the first ten results are about anything but video games. Try it for yourself [google.com], and figure out why the Teachers.Net trade show is listed.


  • What if's (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @12:59PM (#7035026)

    I wonder how they will be enforcing the zip code registration. The main drive behind google and the page rank thing was to take search engine optimization off the page and out of the hands of the web master so as to avoid keyword stuffing and not-quite-honest optimization techniques.

    But it seems sort of hard to determine the "location" of a website without input from the people behind the site. There are possibilities for abuse.

    But maybe there's no incentive to be listed in the wrong zip code... well, maybe there is.

    If you do a lot of business on the web or by mail, and your physical location doesn't matter, you might post 100 versions of your site, each with the zip code of a large metropolitan area. But then how many people would do that?

    Ah hell, I don't know. I'm rambling...
    • If you do a lot of business on the web or by mail, and your physical location doesn't matter, you might post 100 versions of your site, each with the zip code of a large metropolitan area. But then how many people would do that?

      Far too many. It's already rampant on job sites where you can search by location. Those annoying link-portal sites will also offer "localized exposure" services or some other buzzphrase.
  • by gatekeep ( 122108 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @01:00PM (#7035042)
    The results returned by this thing seem to be fairly irrelevant.

    When searching for 'food' with my office location I received the following results;

    -Food allergy and intolerances, fact sheet
    -Oriental grocery stores list for my area
    -Sources of free or low cost
    -Food science publications & journals
    -Thoughts on Food Safety
    -History of Hannakuh foods
    -Oriental grocery stores list (again)
    -foodandwine.com's best new chefs list

    Admittedly, 'food' is a pretty lame search, but I would've hoped to see a couple restaurants and grocery stores in the list.
  • Try "Google LBS Server" as address and you should get a picture of a dust cloud which once has been just that server... ;)
  • A San Diego Version (Score:2, Informative)

    by KrackHouse ( 628313 )
    Here's a (hopefully) non-slashdotted site that does the same thing although it only works in San Diego. SDcommunities.net [sdcommunities.net]
    I got the latitude and longitude data from the Census for zip codes and created a HUGE reference tables for the distances between zip codes. Lots of math in the search code.
  • It's not new (Score:2, Informative)

    by f00zbll ( 526151 )
    http://www.superpages.com/ came out with mapbased search that uses an Applet a while back. And for those who remember Mapquest use to offer a similar feature back in the 90's. Google is a little late to the game. The application itself isn't all that hard to build. The real trick is providing a way for listees to correct the gps coordinates. For those familiar with GIS, that is the biggest problems. To my knowledge, VeriZon offers that capability to listees. You can easily test the accuracy of Goecodes by d
  • That's a great way to spend effort. I'm glad Google is concentrating on that rather than on making their search engine usable once again.

    The day they figure out a way to stop the keyword spammers will be a very, very good day for the Internet as a whole. Location targetted searching... er.. yawn.. any business out there that wants us to visit already has their city on their website anyways.
  • by GreenCrackBaby ( 203293 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @01:09PM (#7035130) Homepage
    Slashdot seems to be very pro-Google, and I admit to using their search the majority of the time as well, but everyone should at least take a glance at google watch [google-watch.org]. Of most interest is the privacy section. If any other site were to track the stuff Google does, /. would be up in arms protesting.

    "Google currently does not allow outsiders to gain access to raw data because of privacy concerns. Searches are logged by time of day, originating I.P. address (information that can be used to link searches to a specific computer), and the sites on which the user clicked. People tell things to search engines that they would never talk about publicly -- Viagra, pregnancy scares, fraud, face lifts. What is interesting in the aggregate can seem an invasion of privacy if narrowed to an individual."

    Please note, this isn't a troll, and I'm not wearing a tin-foil hat (maybe I should?). Imagine the following scenario: a bomb goes off in the US. By tracing searches for "anarchist cookbook" to zipcodes within the area of the bomb blast, the FBI could have access to information that makes TIA look like a better alternative.

    Maybe this isn't such a good feature after all...
    • by docwardo ( 304911 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @01:13PM (#7035166)
      Question here:

      But all this info IP address, variable values, and sites on which the user clicked....

      isn't that all just from most standard web server log?

      Technically doesn't /. record every page I click on, my orginating IP address and any searches I perform?
      • I think the difference could be that Google collects the data not for the standard "we are keeping the server logs for security" but more as a future business opportunity or in case they can construct some new search options. They can collect enormous amounts of data no one else can collect. Some day they might sell accsess to "trusted partners" that can mine the data.
        Don't blame them, after all they can earn huge amounts of money on this, but that does not mean that we should not be worried.

        I think thi

      • isn't that all just from most standard web server log?

        I already said this for the post below yours, but it bears repeating.

        Yes, web sites keep logs of a lot of this stuff. I guess it's even possible that slashdot could store a bunch of info about logged in users with regards to links that they've clicked on, etc.

        However, we are talking about Google here. For most people, Google is the starting point for any web traversing they'll do that doesn't involve bookmarked-sites.
        I'll try to provide a decent
    • Searches are logged by [...] the sites on which the user clicked

      How is this done? The result links don't point to redirections...

    • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @02:38PM (#7035910) Journal
      90% of the complaints on Google-Watch are from "search engine optimizers."

      That is, people are upset that they can't manipulate listings on Google for money. (Hint: Buy a fucking ad.) Forgive me if that makes me want to ignore Google-Watch.

      Google's privacy policy is well defined. If you've got a problem with it, holler. Your scenario would pretty clearly violate their policy. If you've got some other way that they should do their business without losing features, holler.

      Till then, quit hinting.
  • unstoppable force (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Docrates ( 148350 )
    So the unstoppable force won against the unmovable object... This google feature has been slashdotted.
  • nope... (Score:5, Funny)

    by professorhojo ( 686761 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @01:14PM (#7035168)
    it doesn't know where saddam is either...

  • After a lot of trying, you've finally slashdotted Google! lol

    I keep getting server errors when I try searching for things like donuts or my own webpage. Either that, or it thinks Irving,TX is a black hole. Hmm, don't answer that.


  • I mean, beyond the 10K he made in the contest. Did Google give him a job? Or did they basically get this great idea (and a lot of others) for the low-low price of $10,000?
  • by mseeger ( 40923 ) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @01:29PM (#7035267)

    ... covers only one country with unreliable power supply ;-).

    Regards, Martin

  • Would this now be Homing pigeonrank [google.com]?

    These are the jokes, folks, these are the jokes...
  • At the rate Microsoft is going, soon every search will result in a location of Redmond, Washington.

    All roads lead to Gates
  • I see Google uses MapQuest.
    For a second I thought of MapBlast!
    Which is now owned by the evil empire (MSFT).
    Its getting harder and harder to avoid their
    tentacles these days.
  • I can just see Bush now....

    Search Term: Osama
    Location: Afghanistan

    Then its a simple matter of tying the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button to a GPS controlled cruise missile.
  • This is great... combined with something like GoogleAlert [googlealert.com] you could watch for anything new springing up in your neighborhood!
  • It works like this, according to the FAQ:

    How does Google search by location work? Google search by location takes a new approach to helping users find geographic information on the web. For this experiment, we've done something new by analyzing the entire content of a page to extract hints or, what we call "signals," about the geographic nature of a page. From this information, Google determines the corresponding physical location and returns results that match the geographic range you specify (e.g., "nea
  • Still Some Bugs? (Score:3, Informative)

    by technix4beos ( 471838 ) <cs@cshaiku.com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @03:21PM (#7036413) Homepage Journal
    Hrm... Not quite there yet.

    Searching for Microsoft and Redmond [google.com] in the search and location fields yields nothing.

    From Google's regular search engine I get these results [google.com].

    I think they still have some work cut out for them. Granted, it's a great feature, but nothing earth-shattering, since the concept of "yellow pages" has been online for a very long time.

    Some notable YP type engines that I might suggest:

    - Yahoo Yellow Pages [yahoo.com]
    - InfoSpace [infospace.com]
    - Bigfoot [bigfoot.com]

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982