Google has been trying hard to get a secure position in the local scene. As Marissa Mayer described it, local was one of the important aspects of the current web – with the others being media, search, mobile, and social. With YouTube, Google has the media stage. With Android, Google has mobile. But the social sphere and the local platform are both owned by competitors (specifically Facebook and Groupon), and Google has to fight to catch up.
One recent effort to fight in just that way is Google’s new city pages. This is an expansion of the Google Places effort. Google Places is a compilation of local businesses. Users can submit and look over reviews (including simple star ratings and more in-depth reviews), see pictures of the location, and even suggest businesses to their friends. City Pages, the new feature from Google, takes this concept and organizes it in a city-by-city structure. Each city page covers only one region and provides a directory for each city.
It goes beyond that, though. Users will also have access to “Google Offers,” another new feature that provides daily deals and gives access to special offers from various local companies. Users will be able to view one local deal each day and can even make the purchase through the city page by using Google Checkout. Other aspects of the city pages include a community section, where users can see updates from Google that specifically apply to their region, and a business owners section, where webmasters and local business owners can view options to edit, enhance, or promote their business.
But this may cause trouble for Google. For one, this structure is far more similar to the Yelp!, TripAdvsisor, Expedia, and other local review sites than anything Google has done before. Since Google receives data from these groups – including review data – the new structure may cause conflict. This is especially true since Google is indexing the city pages, putting the Google-owned directory on the search engine results, directly opposed to similar sites that are currently Google partners.
[via Search Engine Land]