I think I was about five years off. Several years ago I was thinking about the potential for location-based searching, and I thought it would be a big deal Real Soon Now. But it’s only really taken off in the last couple of years, and it’s only now that Google’s overtly introducing it into the main Web search. Remind me not to try to time any stock purchases.
Anyway, Google announced Friday morning that there’s now an option to refine your searches by location. But you’ll have to make sure your “Show Options” nav is open, or you’re gonna miss it.
I did a Google search for pizza then opened the Show Options nav on the left. All results included “Social” and “Nearby” links, and opening the Nearby link refreshed the search results so they did, indeed, show pizza places near my location. And most of them were actual business Web pages, with only a couple of directory results (one from Yellow Pages, one from Yahoo.) In the middle of the results is a large Google Map with a list of businesses picked out by the usual red pin markers.
There were also options to change the location or change the scope of the locality (either city, region, or state, and it defaults to region.) I changed the region to Boston (except why would I eat pizza in Boston when all that awesome seafood is available?) and got an instantly-refreshed list of results.
Combining this search filter with other ones was kind of hit and miss. I was certainly able to combine this local search to limit it to only pages I had visited before. On the other hand when I tried to get the latest results for pizza in Boston it seemed to fail, as did an effort to limit my results to a certain kind of content.
When I’m looking for local business information on Google I’ll usually start with a Google Maps search and then use the information gleaned from that search to expand into regular Web searching. This handy search filter is going to let me skip a step.