Yahoo is arguably the leader in local search, but others including Google, Microsoft and Yelp have been rapidly gaining. The search engine’s venerable Local site was in need of a refresh, which it has now received. With a redesign partly inspired by the Yahoo OurCity sites in India, the new Yahoo Local features a bolder graphical look that pushes community content even more front and center. Maps are still featured, but not as a central metaphor or visual element and much more in a functional way.
There’s also better and broader integration of other Yahoo content and properties into Local (e.g., Groups, Upcoming [events]). The site is basically divided into three primary tabbed sections: City Guide, My Local (saved content) and Directory (categories). Indeed, while search remains central to the site, there’s a great deal more category and browse functionality. Overall the product appears to be more elegant and complete than its predecessor.
There also appears to be prime geotargeted ad inventory in the graphical tiles that are prominently featured on almost every page. With a self-reported 20 million unique users, these spots will be prime real estate for retailers and other large marketers seeking to target consumers in local markets. And Local listings, Yahoo’s fixed price/placement ad program for small businesses, remains and gets more prominent placement on the lower right of the Local home page.
There’s more discussion on my personal blog Screenwerk.
Postscript from Barry: The Yahoo Local & Maps blog just posted some additional details on new features.