Yahoo has moved its online mapping service to a new platform that the company said makes the website faster and more accurate.

The new mapping platform debuts in the US today, and will bring other enhancements in areas like user interface design, according Yahoo.

Yahoo has been using mapping technology from deCarta for over five years, but with the new platform, developed in-house, Yahoo Maps will perform better, offer more precise results and make backend upgrades easier to implement, Yahoo said.

Yahoo plans to add country-specific mapping sites for the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, although the main Yahoo Maps site already has maps for these and 31 other countries.

Internet companies have in recent years put much effort in improving their online mapping sites, which have become critical to their local search services. Almost always linked, local search engines and online maps let people place addresses on a map, find business listings, obtain driving directions, view aerial and satellite images, read reviews for restaurants and other establishments and find entertainment event information, among other things.

As local search sites increase their popularity with end users, marketers are increasing their ad spending on them. The Kelsey Group expects advertisers to spend $11.1bn in 2011 in these sites, compared with $4.1bn last year, a compound annual growth rate of 22.3 percent.

The new platform will not disrupt the mapping service's existing APIs (application programming interfaces) nor will third-party applications built using them require retooling, said Jeremy Kreitler, director of product management for Yahoo Maps.