Search Engines Flocking To Mobile Focus On Local

Local search continues to be the focus of engines looking to capture market share. Blekko and Yandex launched mobile browsing features Tuesday that serve up information on nearby businesses.

Blekko released izik (pronounced Isaac) for smartphones, bringing search to iOS and Android users. The company's first app for smartphones features a new "What's Nearby" option to serve up information on gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters and other places of interest.

The app taps Blekko's Dynamic Inference Graph, a semantic database that maps queries by algorithm into thousands of categories and filters search results. The company, which recently launched a redesign for the PC, reports nearly 200,000 installs of its app on Apple tablets, with 70% of users returning to spend an average of 12 minutes each time they launch the app.



Yandex also took another step into mobile with the launch of a free browser for Android mobile phones and iPad tablets. The Russian search engine said the mobile browser features Smartbox, which combines the search box and the address bar to detect where the user types a URL or a search query.

The Yandex browser also supports a nearby feature that serves up information on local businesses or places of interest. For instance, when searching for photos of Saint Petersburg or a coffee shop nearby, the user sees a selection of pictures of the city or the nearest coffee spot on a map, without having to click through to them.

The company said it uses Opera Software Turbo technology, similar to the desktop, to help it quickly load Web pages even when connections are slow. The technology will sometimes compress Web pages on the server side by up to 75% to save time when loading.

Yandex will release versions for iPhone and Android-based tablets later this year. The company said it's also working on the next generation of Yandex.Browser to offer integration with social networks and synchronization between mobile and desktop versions of the browser and improve the user experience.

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