Have you searched for a generic term in Google recently, such as “restaurant” or “electrician” and noticed that Google provided local results for your area?
Google is now showing local results for non-local search terms.
Google is using each searcher’s IP address to identify their location to then provide them with local results for generic search terms, even when a location has not been specified.
This could cause a whole host of implications for everyone searching online, but also small local business owners, big businesses and also search marketers.
Here is an example for the search term “restaurant”:
The local results appear in fourth place, which seems to be the highest that they appear for generic terms, which implies that the local results are never the best match for a generic term.
This new concept seems to function quite randomly and takes singular and plural terms as very different, for instance the local results show for “seo companies” but not “seo company”, however they appear for both “electrician” and “electricians”.
Similarly, local results sometimes show for generic terms that may not necessarily be considered suitable for local results or intended to find a local listing. For instance for the search terms “burger” or “cheese“, local results appear, when these terms may or may not be intended to find a local listing.
This change in the Google results could potentially make a huge difference for small local businesses, as they now have the opportunity to get great exposure on search engines through these local listing. They will no longer have to compete on the same level with the bigger competitors in the same industry, as long as that are not in the same area as they are.
This new change also could make a big difference to search behaviour. Recently, search engines have seen an increased use of long-tail search terms, which implies that searchers have not been satisfied when searching on short phrases of one or two words.
However, with the introduction of local results on some generic phrases should mean that searchers will be happy with the results shown, as they should see results that are relevant and local to them, increasing user satisfaction.
Another implication will be that choice of ISP will become more important for these local listings to make a difference to each user. This is because the results are fundamentally driven by each individuals IP address, so it will now be important who your ISP is and also for businesses to know who their customers use for their ISP.
Official Google commentary has been published on the Google Blog