Though still in beta, Google last night put Local on the Google.com home page. No longer will users need to go to the somewhat buried Local.Google.com, nor will local results come up irregularly and, from a user point of view, serendipitously when geographic modifiers are input as part of a search on Google.com. This should result in an immediate traffic spike to Google Local.
Google flirted with putting Local up as a link the homepage several months ago, but took it down after roughly a week.
Yahoo! put local up as a tab on its home page several months ago. That and other moves at Yahoo! local have been indirectly credited with "closing the gap" between the two search engines by participants in a recent Keynote Systems survey of search engine usage.
The move also comes on the heels of MSN's formal launch of its search engine earlier this week.
In other news… Google initiated a beta program that offers cash for referring SMEs to AdWords and AdSense.