One of the major issues that local search has had in the past is that "local" really meant "local as defined by the user" - until now. Google has made a major advancement in local search and essentially integrated some basic IP intelligence into local search.
Google has already rolled out the new local search results, which will appear on a Google Map even if you don't type in a specific geographic location along with a keyword query (such as Chicago Thai food). This is a major development for those websites that rely on local traffic. Google is matching user IP address to a broad geographical location (where you are) and presents listings based on that information. Unfortunately, as it stands right now though, it's got problems.
After searching through a few local results, I would have to say the change (despite its major importance and potential) is a pretty significant failure. Based on my albeit limited experience with these results, it seems the listings are based on too broad of a geographic area. Being successful in a town like this and I'm betting other towns as well, will mean narrowing results to neighborhood location or even zip code location which matches IP addresses.
Don't get me wrong: this is perhaps one of the most important local search developments in years. I advise every company (that has not already) to sign up to Google Maps immediately, as the trend towards IP matching is, once again, crucial to your Internet success.
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