Google built out a massive traffic and advertising network in part by syndicating its search box to thousands of sites across the Internet. The emerging local search market is challenged by the need for critical mass — there's volume, but it's all fragmented and distributed to many many local sites.
Now comes local search syndication for Google.
The Google-AccuWeather deal may represent the beginning of Google's syndication of the Google Local search box (and results), which would help build awareness and broader usage of the product.
The Google Local search box appears in the upper right after a user queries for a local weather forecast (e.g., New York, NY). It then allows users to employ the full Google Local database to search for anything in that city. For example, Sushi, New York.
AdWords appear at the top of the page, followed by Google Local "organic" results. This is identical to what a user would obtain on Google Local itself. The mapping functionality is more limited, but nearly the same.
If this is just the first of many such local search box syndications — others such as InfoSpace and Interchange have already been doing this for some time — it could greatly accelerate the flow of local search traffic to Google. Ultimately that could yield separate Google Local advertising inventory entirely distinct from that displayed on Google's general results pages.
In other words, Google may well be laying the groundwork for a separate local distribution network as a new strategic approach in building out local search.