Google has introduced a new feature in the US that could provide a valuable boost for businesses looking to attract customers from their local area.

The Nearby option could complement search engine marketing efforts because it allows users to search for restaurants, shops and markets in their area without having to enter location-specific keywords, Google product manager Jackie Bavaro said on the company’s official blog.

For example, she added, because the feature works geographically instead of by search term, users "don’t have to worry about adding ‘Minneapolis’ to [their] query and missing webpages that only say ‘St Paul’ or ‘Twin Cities’".

In addition, users can choose whether to have their Nearby option apply to their default location or a customised setting.

Furthermore, the option allows searches to be narrowed down to city, regional or state levels.

The Nearby feature is included in the Search Options for queries in English on Google.com.

According to comScore, Google handled 9.9 billion searches from US internet users during January.

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