Local search results are BIG!
Okay, honestly they aren't anything big; they're not even new. Google started development on local search results way back in 2003. They called it Google Local back then, and they tried to educate owners that they should list their businesses in the system.
When did you sign up with Google Local, Google Maps, Google Business Center or Google Places? Those are all the names they've called the service since 2003. Have you even done it yet?
In this particular case, the jewelry industry is not alone. Even though most jewelers are slow to adopt new technology, Google discovered that only a small percentage of local businesses had registered. So in August 2010, Google loaded a database of about 50 million local businesses.
Literally overnight, every town had at least 1 new jewelry business. Surprising thing was that they even listed the private home beading businesses or solo designers that work out of their basements. Anyone with a tax ID number and an SIC code was listed.
Google is pushing for better and better local results, and the world simply wasn't moving fast enough to provide the information. But now that it's been loaded in, they are able to classify local businesses and match them to other online properties ranging from regular websites to online reviews with Yelp.
Now let's tie this into the SERPs. Every user of Google search has a cookie implanted on their computer. This cookie helps determine the physical location of the machine. It could be a desktop, a laptop and even a cell phone. They all get geo-tracked with cookies.
The geo-tracking allows Google to match a user's physical location to a set of local businesses, and then search for those jewelry keywords without the local businesses first. The matching local results should appear on the screen before any national results.
How does this work for you? Make sure you claim your Google Places listing (and take a drink for those of you out there still playing our Google Places drinking game) and be sure to indicate your website address. List all your designers and product types in the available descriptive fields and update your store hours, too.
Whatever information you put into Google Places will be used to cross reference and find other pertinent local information about your business.
Putting this all together is what gives local search its power. The process is highly refined now that it's been around for more than 8 years.
The only reason local search seems so BIG right now is because its awareness has finally become mainstream.