Type “94703 real estate” into search engine powerhouse Google’s search box and a link to a local directory of real estate companies in Berkeley, Calif., now appears.

In beta form, Google has localized its national Web search function and opened up a new realm of possibility for local real estate markets. Now Web surfers can simply enter a ZIP code and a real estate term in a search query and find relevant local information with neighborhood business listings, maps, directions and useful Web pages.

The move will have a major impact on the real estate industry and change the way consumers search for homes and real estate services on the Web. Home buyers and sellers now can search beyond traditional sources of local information, such as the yellow pages and local business listings to a greater diversity of local resources drawn from the Web at large.

“Google’s goal is to connect searchers with the information they need whether it’s half-way around the world or in their neighborhood,” Google Co-founder Sergey Brin said.

Google Local combines traditional business listings with local resources drawn from Google’s index of more than 4.2 billion Web documents.

Real estate brokers and agents already use Google to capture sales leads off the Web. Some use search engine optimization companies to score higher spots in Google’s real estate search rankings. Others use pay-per-click advertising by purchasing keywords that when searched, will display their text-based ads as a sponsored link on Google’s search results pages.

But Google is not alone in the quest to localize Internet search.

Yahoo!’s Overture and Citysearch also are actively promoting new local search products and trying to create greater functionality, according to a report on search engine marketing by eMarketer.

Some search products are in the works that will identify Web searchers’ ZIP codes so, for example, the person only needs to enter the term “homes” into a search query and the results will reflect only the relevant Web sites and sponsored links for that person’s ZIP code.

Send tips or feedback to Jessica@inman.com or (510) 658-9252 ext. 133.


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