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Google Takes Local Angle

According to researcher ComScore, 29.8% of users launching local searches used Google -- virtually the same amount as the 29.2% using Yahoo!. Meanwhile, the local-search market grew a rapid 33.4% to $3.4 billion during 2005, and will total $13 billion in 2010, according to Kelsey Group, a research firm.

Google is well aware of this opportunity and has been trying to make inroads. In August, the company announced a partnership with Intuit (INTU), which makes accounting software popular with small businesses, that will lead to the inclusion of Google's local offerings with Intuit's software.

But its radio-ad hires will give Google new ammunition when it comes to going after all stripes of the local market. Bank wrote that "hiring radio salespeople could simply be Google moving aggressively ahead of competitors to lock in what might be the most valuable relationships at the local level and leverage these relationships across all its products over time, including: search, radio, display, video and others."

Along with giving its local-search efforts a serious shot in the arm, the move also could help it navigate another roadblock on Google executives' minds.

"Over half of local businesses don't have Web sites yet, based on the estimates we see, and our local business center helps those businesses easily create a Web presence so they can advertise online," said company co-founder and President of Products Larry Page in a widely noted comment during Google's third-quarter conference call last month.

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