For the first time, local listings are finally being taken seriously by Silicon Valley. Conventional wisdom had it that the local space was too scattered and specific to scale for the web. That mentality is being tossed out the window as local listings receive better design treatment, smartphone use continues to grow, and a new generation of small business owners cater to a new generation of customers.
According to Google, one out of every five searches is for something local. That could be a business, park, street, etc., but the message is simple: the web is a global village, but we’re still bound to where we live and work.
As the web has grown, so have our options. Yet for all the various startups and e-tailers trying to replace our daily errands (think Fresh Direct grocery delivery), we’re turning to our computers and mobile devices to find out what’s around us at a higher rate than ever before.
And while ecommerce sites and startup delivery services are certainly becoming more prevalent, there’s also a growing sense that local businesses are benefitting the most from recent advances in local search.
This isn’t to say that anything extraordinary has happened on the local search front. Rather, there has been a steady increase in the quality and quantity of local listings available on the search giants. Social, too, has realized the potential of local: Facebook’s Graph Search hopes to merge the ratings and reviews of Yelp with the location-based check-ins of Foursquare.
We seem to be at a precipice. The attention being showered on local listings right now is sure to raise the bar for businesses everywhere. What we’re seeing is the promise of the web applied to our everyday lives. Rather than replacing the little errands and chores we do on a daily basis, the mobile web is helping augment how we find new places around us while at the same time bringing neighborhoods closer. That may be the promise of another five years, but if you look hard enough you can already see it happening around you.