Just five years ago, some would argue that the best feature search engines had to offer was spell check. Now, among other things, they are able to filter results based on our geographic location at any given moment. We’ve only just begun to realize the potential of these location-based searches, both from a consumer and business standpoint.
The new level of richness that location data provides to a search query is incredibly valuable, because it is based around immediate action rather than passive browsing. For example, when most users use their GPS-enabled smartphones to conduct a location-based search, they are probably looking for information on-the-go which would be useful at that very moment. In other words, they are ready to buy.
With that being said, brands are just starting to take advantage of these searches, by offering coupons and other promotions based on location or proximity. Foursquare is leading the charge in this area. They offer users special offers based on their patronage with certain places. For instance, some restaurants offer free appetizers for “checking-in” on Foursquare while others rewards those who check-in on a regular basis.
The bottom line is that search technology is continually evolving and with each advancement, we are moving further and further away from basic text searches. As more factors contribute to our search results, such as location, search history, personal demographics and more, we will hopefully be able to find what we’re looking for with even greater efficiency and accuracy.
As for businesses, well, this is an opportunity of a lifetime to create a new type of relationship with customers based on their location. But as with every change that has come with the social media revolution, geolocation is just another tool in the marketer’s bag of tricks. The principles of great customer service and superior products and services are still essential if you want to ensure brand loyalty.