Google’s Local Search Takes On More Companies (GOOG, SPMD, LOCM, T, MSFT, YHOO, AOL)

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Google Inc.  (NASDAQ: GOOG) may have just accidentally become more like the Yellow Pages in a new local search effort.  Google is set to launch Places, which gives more information online about local businesses on the first results page of a search.  How much effort Google puts into this is unknown, and it is not new because many people use already use Google to search for local business.  The companies which are targets that are already in the space are SuperMedia Inc. (NASDAQ: SPMD), Local.com Corp. (NASDAQ: LOCM), and even AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T).  Don’t forget about Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO).

SuperMedia Inc. (NASDAQ: SPMD) reported earnings yesterday and owns the online SuperPages.com website, a business listings site featuring the types of targeted ads that Google would want for itself.  SuperPages uses the Bing map service from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT).

Local.com Corp. (NASDAQ: LOCM) is another target company of Google’s  new local search initiative.  This is a company that we and some others had thought could end up being acquired, but Google is taking the ‘grow your own’ approach here.  Local.com shares closed down 2.5% at $4.32 and volume was light today.  This company also has a micro-cap market capitalization.  Local.com also has a link to phone numbers, address, the  website, a brief description and a Bing map from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT).

A larger competitor is AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), via its YellowPages.com.  You knew that had to be there somewhere.  This is almost a microcosm of AT&T, so there is effectively no impact here on AT&T on a financial basis.  The YP.com site offers the same data of phone, address, a place for reviews, and a Navteq “Bing” map from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT).

Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) is another target in the same.  While AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) may seem like a target here as well, AOL uses the Google search and the AOL SEARCH pages say “enhanced by Google” under the logo and by the search box.

Alexa has the following traffic rankings in the United States for these companies:

  • SuperPages.com #285
  • Local.com #306
  • YellowPages.com #189
  • CitySearch.com #338

To keep all of our searches relevant and identical for comparison, the search was based upon Domino’s in zip code 77008.

Google’s Place search will include a photo, and review or a rating from sites like CitySearch or Yelp.  Frankly, after the Google phone initiative this is almost no surprise.  Ditto after the Google street view; double-ditto after Google Earth and Google Maps and Google’s navigation.  All of these other local search businesses already have Google as a competitor because so many searches are conducted right directly into Google’s general search functions.

If you have caught on by now, all search is the target when it comes to Google.  Maybe this is a relatively new initiative .  The reality is this is just a refined initiative that it has already been involved in.

JON C. OGG