Google constantly tries to improve the relevance of the results it delivers. One of the possible approaches is to add more weight to the local component. It is fairly easy to determine where the IP address of a website is located. Google can also recognize the IP address of the searcher. Matching these two will lead to different search results based on where you are located.
Local searches are already fairly common in the travel or tourism industry. Advertisers haven’t been jumping on the paid local search bandwagon as quickly as some had predicted.
But in organic search the search engines dictate how the game is getting played. The algorithms could be changed to apply the local search principle more widespread. This could pose additional challenges (and opportunities) for marketers:
1. You might need to make sure your IP address is actually related to the area you reside in. We don’t know how search engines will handle all the sites that are hosted remotely: our site is hosted at the East coast. We are located in Los Angeles and Cologne. There definitely needs to be an alternative to just going by the IP address.
2. If local results will push the “non-local” organic search results further down the screen your whole strategy of optimizing for a #1 or #3 position needs to be revised. Your efforts will ultimately lead to less traffic.
3. Benefit from being in a crowded area. It will become beneficial for marketers to be located in larger metropolitan areas. An IP address in Montana or Wichita might just be poison for you. A guy with identical content in NY or LA will have the upper hand.
I don’t know what the answers to all these questions will be. What I know is that the landscape will change for sure. Google hasn’t launched Google Earth for you to look into Bill Gates backyard only. The want to make money off it. This means more emphasis on local search.