Google has always been known as an innovator, but today's news of a shift in the way local search results will be handled is truly an eye-opener...
Recognizing that more and more users are coming to Google through their smartphones, beginning April 21st, the company will introduce an entirely separate search index for the mobile market. What makes this idea truly unique is that it takes advantage of a piece of technology you might not think of as being groundbreaking - the phone itself.
How Google's Mobile Search Will Revolutionize Your Mobile Experience
Imagine if you could make searches more personalized, and get better results, just by using your phone.
Once the new indexing option is put into place, every mobile search in Google will result in a unique 800 number that connects you directly with a Google Mobile Search Operator (GMSO). These tens of thousands of customer service specialists (whom the company has been training for more than a year) will confirm your search query, look through the company's own index of local results, and relay the best results in your area, directly to you.
Best of all, since the operators' results are tied to your individual Google account, the results are just as personalized as you would expect... with the added convenience and luxury of a true concierge-style service.
As an example, we worked with a #GMSO during beta testing for a search on "hotels" from a smartphone. After calling our personalized 800 number with just a thumb click, Google's representative examined our search history, found a local option that looked to be within our budget and "reasonably clean," and connected us so we could make a reservation.
Although Google acknowledges that worries about costs and a user learning curve are well founded, the company sees this as a breakthrough in the evolution of personalized service, calling it "the first step in a new era of interpretive search." In fact, the new service is expected to replace traditional search engine listings for mobile devices as thousands of new GMSOs are hired.
Preliminary information for Google's new concierge service isn't yet available on the company's website, but users can get beta details by connecting with +Randy Milanovic in GooglePlus.
Where We're Really Headed With Local Search
As you probably noticed somewhere along the way, the first half of this article was an April Fools' joke, and Google definitely doesn't want you calling and asking for personal concierge service with your searches. There are a few grains of truth in here, however, and it's important that you know where local search is headed and what you have to do to adapt.
In addition, it's critical for business owners and marketers to realize that being ready for "mobile search" involves a lot more than just having a responsive website and adding a few city names to your web copy.
You can see our recent recap of local SEO best practices here, but you shouldn't stop with a few of the basics. The way local searches are being processed is changing from one month to the next, and savvy marketers are doing things like:
- Optimizing different parts of their websites for local searches in each area they operate
- Being sure that maps, contact info, and calls to action are all accessible (or tailored) to local customers
- Monitoring their local search performance on a regular basis
- Encouraging reviews from local buyers on sites like Yelp
- Building a strong social presence - especially on Google+ - to ensure they are easy to find online
Things are changing quickly. So quickly, in fact, that it's sometimes difficult to separate fact from satire and fiction when it comes to things like local search engine optimization. If you aren't doing what you can to attract buyers in your area and stay on top of trends in search, though, you can bet the joke is always going to be on you.