Google has evolved. It came from a simple search and list platform to something that almost reads your mind. Anyone who was caught by surprise by the “Did you mean?” search tool, knows what it feels like to experience this evolution. Inside the think tank that is Google’s product development team there are people who are always on the hunt for items that will add value to your search experience. One of the most prominent ones of late is the local search tool.
Before Google maps and Google’s local search tools, there was a once popular social platform called Four Square. It was a social media app which allowed you to know exactly where your friends were as long as they checked in through the app on their phones. Everyone who knew about it was excited about it at first and a lot of people signed up to used. The vision (before the apps sudden success collapsed) was to give businesses exposure through geo-location. If you check in at a new location on the app then your friends will know about the business. Fortunately Google (and Instagram) learnt a lot from Four Square. With Google’s navigation tools already a hot sell, it was natural that people wanted local search functionality in other Google products.
Google Search Prioritizes local
Using local search, Google is able to provide people with locally relevant page results. It does this by listing websites owned by businesses or brands that are within your surroundings. It even tells you exactly how far or near they are. This way if you are looking for something you could easily access in the real world it will be listed there… with directions. It is highly effective for anyone who wants a simple tool that combines Google maps and search functionality.
Given that local search results are provided at the top of the first page of any search that has local relevance, it is a quick way to boost your website’s ranking. But that’s not the only reason local search is important.
People Around You are the First to Find You
Most people are looking for convenience. Being able to find the things they want from nearby places and businesses is an added advantage. When given the option between a shop that is 50 km away and one that is 5 km away, most people will opt for the nearer one. It is known by marketers as the factor of place in the marketing mix. Fortunately, Google adds other pre-existing SEO factors into their ranking considerations when adding websites onto their local search results. This way, not only do people get the results that are nearby but those that have also ranked well too.
It Filters Your Audience
Google’s local search is not only good for your visitors; it is good for your brand too. Think about it. How often do we check our web traffic sources and find out that half of them came from halfway across the world. Unless you are an internationally based company or a tours and travel firm, getting clients from a different continent may not help you much. This is because a lot of brands serve local customers. They have set up shop within their localities and hope to be found by people living around the same areas. When such a business is optimized for local search it can bring in more traffic from local visitors. In fact it can easily miss out on appearing in searches made from other countries because such searches will produce similarly local results.
The Mobile Advantage
The entire local search network from Google is made possible by Google’s profile based search querying approach. Basically if they have your Google plus profile, they can match your search to your current location. When integrated into your Google activated mobile apps, localized searches give more real time results than ever before. Nowadays people use their phones to perform searches on the go. They could be in their cars looking for a specific product, or in a bus looking for a business they were referred to or an office they need to visit. With GPS functionality mobile phones add a navigation component to local search results making it even more potent and effective for driving traffic to both your website and to your office.
Getting your website listed on Google’s local search should therefore be the top agenda on your SEO to-do-list today.