Brafton has reported that Google officials say local is the search company's top priority, and Media Bistro's recent interview with Marissa Mayer, vice president of consumer products, confirms that Google's […]

Brafton has reported that Google officials say local is the search company's top priority, and Media Bistro's recent interview with Marissa Mayer, vice president of consumer products, confirms that Google's failure to acquire Groupon hasn't ended its interest in the local market.

Mayer emphasizes Google local developments will serve as "contextual discovery" tools, and marketers may want to optimize their sites and Place pages to fit the location context.

Mayer told Media Bistro that Google's main focus in the local market is using location as a context to help searchers find what they're looking for. She believes the company has an edge on foursquare because of Google’s Hot Pot. As Brafton reported, Hot Pot offers socially recommended Places search results.

When asked about the slow adoption of location-based services, Mayer shrugged off some experts' doubts about geosocial platforms. "It's really early," she said. "We are still experimenting with [the incentives]." She says Google wants to "unlock all of this potential."

One way the company might have unlocked incentives for local search was through a partnership with Groupon. As Brafton reported, the search giant failed to acquire the daily deal-finder last month.

Yet, it sounds like Google is moving forward with the creation of coupons and other promotions that will get consumers interested in businesses with listings in Google Places. Though she wouldn't say anything specifically, Mayer suggested to Media Bistro that Google will be offering merchants new ways to advertise to local consumers.

Marketers may consider the search giant's investment in the local market as a sign that local search may soon become a mainstream search practice. Whether through ads with Google or site optimization that draws local traffic to sites, marketers may find there is an early-adopter advantage.

Plus, Google is pulling out all the stops to get brands on board. Last week, Brafton reported that Google officials were phoning small business owners in an attempt to gain local advertising partners.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.