I’ve always found it funny, and somewhat fascinating how the internet works. In a lot of ways the “world wide web” stands true to its name of truly being world wide, and has contributed in many ways to globalization in the 21st century. The online marketplace is thriving, and the collaboration of various individuals across multiple continents is happening every second of the day. Brands could broadcast a product or service on a global level. Global celebrities could happen overnight via a viral Youtube video. So that’s why it’s funny to me that in the last few years local search has become more and more relevant. We have the world at our fingertips and yet our search results are tailored to uncover things in our own backyard?
There are probably a lot of reasons for this, but I think one stands out among the rest. That reason is we as a society are impatient and that impatience is a result of world wide web (talk about irony!).
“We have the world at our fingertips and yet our search results are tailored to uncover things in our own backyard?”
We have become accustomed to having answers right when we need them, to having devices in the palms of our hands that can be our wallet, communication device, and answer all of our questions. True, we can order things online and have it shipped to us in a day (perhaps in a few years via a drone in mere minutes). But we are more impatient now, we want services and things as fast as we want Google to answer “What’s the tallest building in North America?”
I think this impatience is why local search has become so important today. Also, it’s important to mention that the fact a person is using a search engine in the first place shows some intent on their part to travel to, to buy, or otherwise take action from that search. That’s also why local search matters so much because someone can act on their intent right that second. They can drive to that hair salon right now.
As a business owner it’s important to recognize local search and to leverage it. This all ties into an announcement from Google recently that caught my attention. Google announced a study that shows “near me” searches have surged 34 times since 2011 and 80% as to be expected came from mobile devices. The study goes on to say that brand loyalty did not seem to be a factor in these searches, users actually preferred the closest, or most convenient location for whatever particular service or product they needed.
So have we officially entered a new era of the internet? An era of localization? I don’t think it’s safe to say we’ve completely gone local, as there are still aspects of search that will forever be global. But being “near me” is definitely more valuable these days.