In 2012, a tipping point was reached for local search. Smartphone adoption led to the acceleration of local search volumes, mobile payment options grew, and Google, Apple and Facebook all released new map/local applications. From the Hubspot blog, here are six predictions about local search for 2013.
Social Influence Will Start to Affect Search Algorithms
Google is gathering lots of data about the types of businesses users are clicking on in search results. This is especially true of Google+ users. Expect these users to increasing sway over a much broader range of results than just the ones their friends see.
Google Will Re-Introduce its SMB Dashboard
Expect improved analytics on Google+ business pages, wall-like reviews, streamlined offer creation and earier onboarding into AdWords Express. Google's timetable has been accelerated by Facebook's existing business integration.
Local on Mobile Will Get Huge
The percentage of local searches on mobile devices might be even higher than the 50% number that is traditionally reported. Expect to see an increase in the percentage of local searches conducted on smartphones -- far beyond the traditional numbers that comScore or Nielsen report.
Location Data Will Remain Complex
The proliferation of non-Google location-aware and location-dependent apps will continue in 2013. Google will attempt to pull category information from a broader array of sources than just business owners themselves.
Mobile Transactions Will Increase
Payments via smartphone will make it much easier to close the research-online-buy-offline loop and calculate an actual ROI on specific marketing spends. Square reported over $6 billion in sales from over 2 million merchants as early as June. They expect to reach $15 billion from close to 3 million merchants by the end of 2013. Expect to have the ability to book appointments with service merchants as a feature of Google+ by the end of 2013.
Foursquare Will Get Bought
Foursquare is ripe for purchase by someone like Apple, Google or Facebook. Foursquare could help wider adoption of Apple's Passbook by both merchants and smartphone users. Foursquare's historical check-in information could be extremely valuable to Google.