With the announcement of Google Now, a search tool for Google phones with the power of predictive search, the concept of local optimization should be pushed to the front of your social media strategy. The basic idea of Now is that Google will be able to know where you are and predict what you need, essentially streamlining your life. The idea is to show you what restaurants are around you and recommending what you should try, based on recommendations and what you’ve enjoyed in the past.
How Predictive Search Changes Things
Google Now represents the interconnection of various Google services of the past into one, voice-controlled whole. This follows from CEO Larry Page’s 2012 Update from the CEO, in which he talked about how “I have always believed that technology should do the hard work,” following that, “People shouldn’t have to navigate Google to get stuff done. It should just happen.”
This intuitive search is the future of Google and it has been realized, at least in terms of functionality, in Google Now. As the director of development for Android, Hugo Berra, noted in an article from The Verge about Google Now, “It really feels like we’ve been working on Google Now for the past ten years. Because Google Now touches every back-end of Google, every different web service that’s been developed over the last ten years or so is part of this service.”
That connection of Google’s various services and platforms into one massive system is notable for many reasons, despite the relatively limited and seemingly small use of the technology in Android phones. As Dieter Bohn, the Verge article’s author, commented “Google Now isn’t important for what it does, well, “now,” but the building blocks are there for a radically different kind of platform in the future.”
What is that new future system? The answer lies in predictive search. With the power of a system like Now, future search engines will know what you want before you do. They will then be able to provide that information as you need it, be that in the form of directions, ticket information, or (as I mentioned before) restaurant information.
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This is where local optimization comes in.
Local SEO is Now Mandatory
If a search engine is hunting for information about local restaurants, movie theaters, and museums, then it is in the interest of those local businesses to optimize their search rankings as much as possible. Effectively, the presence of a locally optimized predictive search system like Now means that local SEO is mandatory for business success.
If you’re thinking that local is going to be unimportant, you should heed the words of SEOBook’s Aaron Wall, who explains the following:
“Anyone who thinks this rich content SERP which promotes Google is only about local is going to be sorely disappointed as it moves to:
- travel search (Google doesn’t need to sell airline tickets so long as they can show you who is cheapest and then book you on a high margin hotel)
- any form of paid media (ebooks, music, magazines, newspapers, videos, anything taking micro-payments)
- real estate
- large lead generation markets (like insurance, mortgage, credit cards, .edu)
- ecommerce search
- perhaps eventually even markets like live ticketing for events.”
Big proclamation time: local is going to shape the face of SEO news for the next decade. Between local optimization, social optimization, and the rise of our glorious robot overlords, we have a pretty eventful decade ahead of us. Especially that robot thing I snuck into the last sentence there.
There are plenty of how to’s, top 10 tips, and services out there to help build local SEO, but the basics are relatively simple. List your address, have your phone number in the site, and make clear that you are a real business in a real location. There is also a mandate to have reviews of your business up and accessible, even the bad ones. The how’s and what’s aren’t really the purpose of this post, but there is plenty of great material up around the web to help. The key is to get on local optimization as soon as you can, because the future is already here.
How are you optimizing for the predictive search future?