Marketers should play close attention to local search developments as Google's local search could integrate social signals and context.

Google just confirmed what many marketers suspected – the search engine announced it’s acquiring Waze to improve its mapping technology. The social-sharing platform crowdsources real-time information about traffic jams and road closures to provide mobile searchers with accurate directions. This might improve Google’s local search capabilities and help marketers bridge the gap between online content marketing and in-store sales.

The more than $1 billion deal will bring new data to Google Maps as the two companies team up to “outsmart traffic.”

For instance, users can alert other drivers about accidents that just happened or slow-moving jams through tollways, and suggest alternatives routes that will get people to their final destinations sooner.

Perhaps most importantly, Waze brings a certain social element to the table. Through the application, users can connect through Facebook to share locations with friends. This can streamline coordination when separate drivers are planning to meet at the same location, and it circumnavigates those unfortunate circumstances when only one car makes it through a red light.

The more than $1 billion deal will bring new data to Google Maps as the two companies team up to “outsmart traffic.”

With smartphone penetration passing the halfway mark – Brafton recently reported more than 56 percent of Americans use internet-enabled mobile phones – it’s likely that consumers will rely more on local search when making decisions on the go. Theoretically, Waze brings social circles into smartphone-owners purchase decisions. When consumers are picking restaurants for lunch dates or searching for coffee shops with short lines, they may be able to use local search data to see peers’ real-time suggestions.

Google appears to be bringing more context to local queries, offering in-depth articles to supplement organic results. In one example from Search Engine Land, a search for “Mexican food” serves nearby results as well as longer articles about specific restaurants from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Marketers must stay on the leading edge of local SEO to capitalize on mobile search. By generating community-centric online content and establishing strong presences on social networks, brands can deliver their messages at just the right moment – when people are ready to buy.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.