Google has updated the Australian version of its Maps application, which coincides with the search giant announcing that next week, it will update its global service so that maps can be embedded into any Web page using an iframe.

At a press event in Sydney on Tuesday, Google senior product manager, Carl Sjogreen explained that from now on, if an Australian search query contains a place name, such as “pizza Surry Hills”, a map box displaying local businesses that match the query will be displayed before the main search results.

“It seems straightforward but this kind of experience is not easy to find on other mapping sites. Type three words, find a result, get driving directions? I challenge you to find that on any of the other sites in Australia as easily,” he said.

Google’s increasing focus on local markets is driven by the vast majority of searches being directed at local services and businesses, according to Sjogreen.

“Now when you do searches for local businesses on, the interesting local results appear as well — with a map and with the most relevant places highlighted.

“We have over nine million Australians that use Google everyday and our estimates show that something like 50 percent of Web queries are local or map related in nature,” said Sjogreen.

Google also announced that next week it will make life much easier for users that want to share a Google Map using their Web page or blog by providing some code that will allow Google Maps to be used almost anywhere on the Internet.

“If you had a set of local results you wanted to share, embedding that in another site was a little bit tricky — you had to sign up for a developer key and write some Javascript code.

“This makes it easy to take a Google map and make it accessible from any other Web site,” said Sjogreen.

Local Google means local adverts
Australian businesses are now able to purchase advertising space within Google Maps search results. The offering allows for customisable icons and text to appear both in the results and on the map itself, said Jeremy Wood, Google Australia’s field product specialist.

“It functions as an ad type from within adwords,” said Wood.

Google is also increasing its focus on user generated content with the option to search all public My Maps via a link at the bottom of the map search results. Although not completely integrated into Google Maps search results, Sjogreen said that this would be something Google will investigate.