Local search can perhaps be considered the bread and butter for many small and medium sized businesses. As search engine optimization (SEO) can be difficult to target a unique area or city, many businesses have turned to pay per click campaigns so they can more clearly identify the geographic location(s) where they would like their ads to appear.
Google has recently announced that they are now showing local results for non-local search queries. The best way to explain this is for you to try it out for yourself. Try searching for dentist in Google. More than likely you will see a few listings and then about half way down on the page you will see something similar to this:
Notice that Google has identified my location (by my IP address), and is serving results from Google Maps based on where I am located. There is an option to change your location just above the local listings.
A searcher’s Internet service provider (ISP), or even more importantly, your customers ISP, may now be more relevant than before when talking about local search. If someone has an IP address located outside of the area that they are searching from, the results will be tied to the location of their ISP.
This update may be great news for small and medium businesses. In the past, ranking for generic terms such as “dentist” was very difficult, as the competition for one-word search terms can be prohibitively high. Now, the opportunity to appear on the first page of the search results for broad terms, even when a searcher does not provide a specific location in their search query, may be within reach.
It is important to keep a few things in mind. First, if there is a location identified in the query, such as “Dentist, NY”, the map results will be tailored to NY. The local results will also appear at the top of the page, whereas the more generic search for “dentist” causes the Google Map results to appear nearly half way down on the page.
In addition, Google has noted that search queries have been getting longer. Over time, I wonder if searchers will start to input queries that are shorter in length when looking for local businesses, since they will now be able to find what they need with a more generic, one-word term.