Although a few short years ago, Google was only in its early stages, it may be hard for us to imagine now. At one point, there were many different search engines still in the game. Of course, there still are now, but none have anything close to the monopolistic power of everyone’s favourite search giant. We feel like it knows us personally, and a lot of that is down to developments in the last few years, with an increasing emphasis on local and personalised results, plus the additions of many different modules and widgets on search pages that link to Google Maps and try to connect us with the most geographically suitable answers to our queries.
But what if we suddenly went back to a time when all of this didn’t exist? It wasn’t really so long ago when Google would basically return the same results for anyone searching on it, regardless of their precise location or even what country they were in. Local competition in terms of SEO is so fierce now, imagine what it would be like without that specificity? Not only that, but imagine how difficult it would be for search users to make informed decisions! It would basically become impossible for certain industries, including…
1) Healthcare – Currently if you were to search for a doctor’s surgery or a pharmacy, you would almost certainly be presented with a local map widget labelling all your nearest options. If these businesses were not optimised to appear on Google properly, an emergency situation could become a lot more serious.
2) Jobs – Looking for jobs is almost a complete waste of time if you have no way of narrowing it down by location (amazing you will still find careers services online where this is the case). Currently Google will assist with this, but if it didn’t, you’d almost certainly miss all the best opportunities and waste a lot of time.
3) Food delivery – This is something many of us enjoy using Google’s local search powers for. If you look for just the word “pizza” in any given location you will usually see red pins appearing all over the place, for example. Without this, it would be frustrating trying to find somewhere that’s within easy reach or delivers to you, plus you have the issue of comparing user reviews to find the best option.
All this information is supplied through Google’s intelligent local pack, thankfully. But it is worth thinking about what would happen if we didn’t have the search features we now take for granted. What will be the next development that Google sees success with and we start to feel like we couldn’t live without?