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Live.com and Yahoo! bulk up for local search brawl

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CrowdStorm goes live.

A hefty list of new features were added to Microsoft’s Live Local Search yesterday and just tonight to Yahoo! Local. As both rivals get stronger, you can’t help but wonder what’s going to come after coupons for Google’s local search. Both Yahoo! and Live Local are looking good.

Yahoo! Local
Yahoo! Local now lets search users build personal collections of search results, tag locations, write reviews, see recommendations, upload pictures and build sideshows all in a dashboard based service called “my local.” Photos you tie to a particular location and mark public are visible to other users when they look at the location’s profile page on Yahoo! Local search.

I haven’t been able to tell yet whether there’s any Flickr integration with Yahoo! Local Search, but that would be a very logical step. Given that there were 1.2 million Flickr photos geotagged in the first 24 hours that the feature was available, you can imagine how powerful integration of public, geotagged photos with local search could be.

This upgraded Yahoo! Local is impressive. It’s a lot like Yahoo! TripPlanner, but I foresee it being much more useful. Google’s local search is pretty good, and I appreciate the reviews they pull in, but Yahoo! functionality appears to have taken the lead. I use Google local search every time I go to a new restaurant, for example, but I think I’m going to be trying Yahoo! and Live first for awhile. That said, integration of the several related domains on Yahoo! is still quite awkward and I hope that will change.

Live.com Local
Microsoft’s Live Local Search added new features yesterday as well. Those include a white-pages style people search, the ability to draw on and annotate maps and a cool feature to have any business’s details sent by text message to your mobile phone so you’ll have them without going online. Live Local already offered a service to simultaneously connect your phone and a business’s phone with one click.

This Live Local upgrade also extended to more than 100 the list of cities you can get a Virtual Earth powered “bird’s eye view” of. The Live Local team says that there are now hundreds of thousands of new WiFi access points that Live uses for its “locate me” feature – determining your physical location on its map.

Update: Live just put out a mobile version, see CrunchGear for coverage.

It’s been clear that local search has always had a lot of potential; it’s exciting to see these two major players innovating and making it a much richer experience. As the usefulness of local search grows, so does the business that can go on there. I love many Google services, but its local search is looking pretty sparse now compared to Yahoo! and Live. Ask.com’s local search and Plazes are worth a look as well. There’s a whole lot going on in local search these days.

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