AOL Quietly Releases Local Beta 2

The image “https://i2.wp.com/o.aolcdn.com/localsoam/aol/en_US/img020162/s7Logo_Index_MapQuest.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.I was prompted by ResourceShelf’s Gary Price (yet again), who pointed out that AOL’s local search “beta” has gone into its second release. Here are some of the changes and improvements:

  • Better fallback for locations that cannot be mapped
  • Improvements to the Driving Directions widget, both in visibility and in ease of use
  • Improvements in the design of the Printer Friendly pages
  • More “Top Tier” city content. Results for the larger cities in the US will display modules such as “City’s Best” and “Explore (City Name).” Outside of major cities, results will feature Regional Events and Regional Headlines
  • A tip box for the first time you visit a search results page to highlight the functionality of the map that is being displayed (e.g., panning, clicking and dragging, etc.).

Here’s my very basic, March post when the new map-centric site launched. Here’s an example search for “Sushi, San Francisco” (instead of Pizza).

You can sort by distance, name or rating. The windows open on the map simply by mousing over them, rather than clicking and there are images for most of the windows. AOL Cityguide “City’s Best” rated places are called out with different colored pushpins and icons on the left-hand column.

In general, they’ve done a very nice job with the interface. One of the areas where we’re likely to see substantial innovation and improvements in local, in the near term, is on the interface (as opposed to the data).

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Related: AOL also launched a new consumer electronics site (Switched.com), inspired by its celebrity gossip site TMZ.com. And the company’s video search property Truveo upgraded its APIs.


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