Local search: It’s all about the best answers for users

This Sunday the Wall Street Journal published a story about local search that makes a number of assertions about how local search works at Google, so we thought it would be helpful to share our view on these issues.

When people come to Google looking for information about places like restaurants, shoe stores, parks or museums, our goal is to provide them with answers as quickly as possible and presented in a way that’s easy to read and understand. Sometimes the most useful information is a direct link to a business—other times it’s a map or a list of review sites. As Susan and Udi wrote just over a week ago:
Answering users' queries accurately and quickly is our number one goal. Sometimes the best, most relevant answer to a query is our traditional “ten blue links,” and sometimes it is a news article, sports score, stock quote, video, or a map.
When someone searches for a place on Google, we still provide the usual web results linking to great sites; we simply organize those results around places to make it much faster to find what you’re looking for. For example, earlier this year we introduced Place Search to help people make more informed decisions about where to go. Place pages organize results around a particular place to help users find great sources of photos, reviews and essential facts. This makes it much easier to see and compare places and find great sites with local information.

We’ve heard from users and businesses that Place pages are a great way to find local information and reach customers. We’ve also heard from webmasters that Place pages help them reach a broader audience when users click through to learn more.

As Susan and Udi wrote, we built Google for users, not websites. We welcome ongoing dialog with webmasters to help ensure we’re building great products, but at the end of the day, users come first. If we fail our users, competition is just a click away.