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InfoUSA licenses business database to Google

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Omaha, Neb.—Data provider infoUSA on Tuesday announced it has signed an agreement to license its business database to Google. InfoUSA said the data would be available in Google Local, the search engine’s local search product.

Industry sources agree the move helps Google fill in what were gaps in its 1-year-old local search product by expanding its business listings. Google and infoUSA executives could not be reached for comment by deadline.

"This piece of data is crucial to fill out their database of local listings," said Zorik Gordon, CEO and founder of ReachLocal, a local Internet advertising platform.

Another executive agreed. "Google is largely about credibility, relevance, speed and accuracy," said Chris Cleveland, CEO at Dieselpoint, a search software company. "To date, Google Local has been less than complete. Purchasing better data is critical for them to make Google Local a success," Cleveland said.

Greg Sterling, local media analyst at the Kelsey Group, agreed the deal gives Google a more complete data set. "[With this announcement] they probably have the most comprehensive database of local business information out there," he said. "This is an additional set of data that will overlap with what they already have."

Google, like rival Yahoo!, taps multiple sources of information for its local product. "I imagine they’re getting information from other database providers such as Acxiom and Amacai," Sterling said. "Yahoo! is the only other search engine that might have an equally comprehensive data set."

All search providers and Yellow Pages companies buy databases from a limited number of sources. A more complete set of data could give Google the edge over the Internet Yellow Pages providers, such as Verizon’s Superpages.com. Those companies until now have been considered better local products than the major engines.

Kelsey Group last year compared local search products. "Google and Yahoo! fared relatively poorly in terms of quality and accuracy," Sterling said. However, Google and Yahoo! continue to improve that experience, he said.

"They want to be the gatekeeper between users and the Internet Yellow [Pages] and white pages" Cleveland said. "Google’s business model is to find "any information that exists on paper and online, and become the intermediary."

Amassing data is key, and small businesses are one valuable target.

For example, Yahoo! last month announced it would make free Web sites available to small businesses. "Part of that was to get more data directly from small businesses themselves," Sterling said.

As a result of these developments, Sterling said the online directories need to go a step further to retain their value. "The Internet Yellow Pages will have to get more, richer content out of the local businesses than what you can get out of the infoUSA database in order to continue to make the claim that they have better local content," he said.

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