Google is “hyperlocal” and getting more so everyday. Google recognizes that half of all Internet searches are now with “local intent,” meaning the searcher wants information about something near to the place where the search is being performed.
Google assumes that search results for persons, places or things nearer the searcher are the most relevant and thus desired, and generally Google is correct.
How does this impact how local businesses market for prospects on the Internet? It means the battles for prospects from SEM (search engine marketing) are easier won nearer the business address. And the range of the reach online seems to get a bit smaller with time – thus Google becomes more and more local focused, thus, “hyperlocal.”
Another variable in the battle for local domination of competitors: the exact location on the searcher. At one time, the best Google could do was identify the address of a searcher’s ISP (Internet Service Provider), and return broader search results. But now, with half of all searches being made from smart phones or similar mobile devices, the search engine knows the exact point of the search. So search results can be compressed with the businesses closest generally ranking better. [Caveat: There are several hundred “ranking factors” for how local businesses are “ordered” in search results. Location alone will not make a business the big winner, but it can provide a distinct advantage.]
One more factor in the battle for local business. Before the advent of so many mobile devices, Google would select a “centroid” in each community for business types. For instance, if most medical doctors were grouped near the hospital, Google would locate the centroid among those medical practices. Physicians located nearer to the centroid would generally rank higher than those farther from the hospital. With the advent of mobile device searches this is not as determinative on rankings as it once was.
But the centroid discussion does bring up the question of how the concentration of competitors effects search results. The scope of search results varies from business to business. Some unusual businesses, although local, may rank well for large metropolitan areas like all of metro Atlanta. Others, such as child care centers, must be realistic with ranking for a range of five miles or so. For the typical business, dominating the surrounding community is the first goal. How to do that and how to expand the sphere of influence online for a business requires professional guidance, like that offered by @tlanta inbound.