This week, Google Maps introduced a new Neighborhood Search capability. If you’re a regular Google Maps user, you may wonder how this functionality is different than Local Search. With Neighborhood Search, users can find businesses based on neighborhood locations rather than doing a city-wide search. The Neighborhood Search allows queries like bagels upper east side new york or restaurants, over the rhine, Cincinnati. This is convenient for users in large cities like New York where a city-wide search might yield results that are nowhere near where you’d like to visit. After all, who wants to travel half an hour for spaghetti when there’s a perfectly good Italian restaurant around the corner?

This new search functionality looks like it’s a stepping stone to what many users believe will be an intuitive mobile search from Google. Google has submitted a patent for a search program that would predict what users will search for based on a number of factors, including location. The program is intended to make it easier for users to find businesses to patronize in their geographic area.

For webmasters, this new search capability, paired with what looks like Google’s expanding foray into mobile search, should be an SEO wake-up call. Now more than ever, it’s time to make sure your website is both search engine and user friendly. Google is making it easier for consumers to find your business, so make it easy for Google to find your website and know your location. Otherwise, you’ll be left out of the loop on new local and neighborhood searches. Also keep in mind that as Google branches out more and more into mobile searching, your website needs to be compatible with every browser out there, including those on mobile phones. Take the time to assess your website and make sure that it will work for all users, no matter how they find you.

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