Does it feel like Google has been loco over local search results and relevancy lately? If so, here’s the reason: Google has been aggressively updating Google Places and rolling out new products such as Hotpot (a hyper-local, user reviewed, social recommendation engine) with an aim toward improving local results and displaying these results above organic listings.
What this means for Oregon businesses: Local businesses have a competitive edge over non-local businesses.
In a video uploaded to Google’s Webmaster YouTube channel (watch it on our video page), Matt Cutts, Google, addressed this comment: “… how can an out of town company compete with the local based (and locally housed) competition without lying to show up in these results?”
Cutts explains in the video that the the entire first page of organic rankings is there for out-of-towner to compete on. But this didn’t really answer the commentor’s question. So, what he didn’t say is that if your company is not local, you just aren’t going to be able to compete with businesses that appear in the local results.
Our advice is this: If you want to compete in a local market where you do not have a physical location, you may just need to get a local phone number and a local mailing address (street only, Google Places will not work with a PO Box) and set up a virtual shop in that geographic market. This trend, focus on local results and relevancy, is going to continue, especially now that Google has entered the mobile geolocator race with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.