At the Google LatLong blog, Google announced that Maps now offered a neighborhood search capability. From the post:
You can now do searches such as bagels upper east side new york and restaurants, over the rhine, cincinnati on Google Maps. Additionally, this capability allows you to do city-level searches where the city is uniquely named, regardless of size, such as bakery corpus christi, or movie theater albuquerque.
A similar change that affects rural searches (and possibly suburban searches) is the dramatic increase in distance that will retrieve a result when there is no service available in the town requested.
Previously, if a user searched on a service that wasn’t available in the town name provided, the Local OneBox would only return results in order of distance from the query but with a definite mileage limit. If there was only one or two listing, then only those two would be returned. In my area of the country it appeared to be about 15 miles (although according to Bill Slawski this sensitivity varies by location).
Now however, if a service doesn’t exist in the town identified or if only a non-verified listing is available, Google will retrieve verified listings from a much greater area and always return 3 listings. We are seeing listings showing up on queries for towns 40-50 miles away. Here is a search on web hosting Jamestown NY that returns our business at a distance of 41 miles and our second office at a distance of about 30 miles.