Google Rebrands Local into Google Maps
Last October Google merged Google Maps into their local search application and branded the end product Google Local. Like Yahoo Local and Local.com, the Google Local brand association with local search is strong for business marketing, but has little differentiation with the brands and direction of other services.
Google has decided, in what they say is a response to user demand, to rebrand the Google Local offering back under the Google Maps umbrella.
My personal opinion on the matter is now that Yahoo’s fortification of their Yahoo Maps product with satellite and fly over photography (bound for Yahoo Local integration), and Techcrunch voting Yahoo Maps as the best all around web mapping service, Google is using the renaming of its Google Local into Maps to not only gain some press and gather more interest into its service, but also further define the direction of Google local search – MAPS driven results and advertising.
So, as Local is the tangible future of search usage on the PC, mobile, and vehicle navigator systems – Google is of course not hanging up the local search gloves.
Thai Tran, Product Manager of Google Maps and Local Search, says on the Google Blog that “Google Maps continues to have the killer combination of maps, driving directions, and local business search. And local search has become a fundamental part of the Google search experience; it’s now embedded within a number of our products, including Google web search, Google Earth, Google SMS, and Google Mobile.”
I’d also expect more localized targeting to be holistically integrated into the Google search results as is via changes to the Google rankings based upon user location or locations in which the users has accessed Google, laptop and mobile GPS, and other forms of user behavior.
With plans to integrate such profiling into their Google search rankings and AdWords advertisements – why even offer a separate Local Search service?