In all the excitement around geolocation, Google’s latest move to discern local intent is a search tool that enables “nearby” filtering. This is useful during the times when a geographic modifier, like a ZIP code, is not used in a search query.
The underlying technology has been there for a while to serve local results when geo isn’t specified. Google has made a few moves in this direction over the past year. This included local results served in cases of “implied” local intent (think categories where intent is likely to be local).
This new option simply meets users halfway by giving them a button make their intent more explicit and “localize” a set of results that didn’t fit the bill. Like the aforementioned automatic local results, this will most often pull a user’s IP address (or you can enter a city or ZIP manually).
In cases where users have opted in for Google’s MyLocation feature, the results could be much more accurate, as this feature utilizes Wi-Fi signal triangulation to pinpoint PC users’ locations. This much is clear, but there is more to the nuts and bolts that will require investigation. More to come.