Google's local search results now are more engaging and more informative. Google's local carousel not only includes images but also integrates Google's own version of user reviews and its Google/Zagat reviews. Just click on a business listed in the carousel and Google delivers an information card with directions, address, a phone number, and has links to read or write reviews.
The feature isn't perfect. In my quiet corner of Boston I don't see a local carousel for much beyond the obvious. A search for "dog parks near me" doesn't trigger the carousel to appear and neither does "liquor stores near me." When local search fails it reverts back to the old way Google delivered local results.
This new local search carousel plays right into Google's big Maps update announced last month. Google Maps now encourage much more social interaction with maps and prods users to rate, review, and add comments to local landmarks and businesses within the app. Local search will both exploit Google Maps more efficiently and help it get better. Listen to Google describe how we all will help Google Maps (and in turn local search) improve over time:
"As you search the map, star places you like and leave reviews, the map starts to adapt and can suggest things like restaurants you might enjoy or the quickest way home. In other words, the more you use the new Google Maps, the more helpful it becomes."
Put a different way, Maps and local search will get better as Google watches over our shoulder as we plot local nightlife, hiking, soup, and dog parks on its maps. I guess there is power in numbers - and soon more advertising profits for Google.