In what may help the search engine optimization (SEO) for businesses close to the area its customers are searching in, Google has made local searches the default setting for its results.

It has always been the case that users got results close to a specific area when they typed in a city or area in the query. But on Monday the search engine giant made a change that gives users local results even if they don’t type in a location.

"We try to make our guesses as good as they can be so that whether you’re shopping for groceries, sporting goods or flowers, or looking for your bank, your gym, or the post office, you can just say what you want, and we’ll try to find it right where you are," said Google software engineers Jenn Taylor and Jim Muller in a company blog post yesterday.

It would appear that the biggest winners from this change from Google will be small businesses who could potentially increase their search engine optimization (SEO) and see more traffic from people in their area. Matt McGee, writing for Search Engine Land, agrees.

"With this change, small/local businesses will now be getting exposure on at least hundreds, and probably thousands of prime keywords … But, with Google showing local results on this prime real estate, a big door of opportunity has just opened up," he said.