On Monday Yahoo released a test version of a local search engine, giving users the ability to search phone numbers, maps, ratings and reviews for a range of services.
Yahoo has set up the new Yahoo Local as a direct competitor to Google's own local search service, one of many new platforms that company has rolled out as its moves toward its highly anticipated initial public offering.
Like Google, Yahoo's aim is to cash in on local advertising, a market worth billions of dollars in revenue and a relatively small Internet presence.
"Local information is kind of Yahoo's heritage and in our blood," Paul Levine, general manager of Yahoo Local, told Reuters. "When an audience starts to look at local information we see an opportunity to really capitalize on those dollars from a local perspective."
Levine pegged online spending as less than one half of one percent of local ad spending overall.
The new Yahoo local engine, which became available late Monday night Pacific Time, prompts users to search for a service, like "restaurants" or "dentists," along with a location, and then returns results like business name, address and phone number.
Users can refine the results by rating, distance from a specific point and other factors. Maps show the location of specific businesses and can be enhanced with the locations of parking lots and ATMs.
For restaurants, the search engine will offer editorial reviews and data like price and atmosphere, as well as an opportunity for users to contribute their own reviews.
Yahoo has partnered with a number of companies for its data, Levine said, in an effort to be comprehensive. Test searches on the engine returned results from major cities as well as smaller communities like Yuma, Arizona and French Lick, Indiana.
"People will break it in the early going," Levine said. "It's not perfect but we do think it works really well."