Google uses several different methods to detect user location including locations in search term and location based on computer’s IP or GPS mobile devices location. This is 99% accurate. Google displays Pay Per Click advertisements and search results based on user location.
If a local small business owner in Raleigh chooses an Internet Marketing or SEO company located in a totally different area, they most likely won’t be able to see your website in search results as someone from Raleigh area does.
Following are two totally different search results for the same search query “car dealers”. First screenshot is from someone located in Raleigh, NC and the second screenshot is from someone located in Atlanta, GA.
Google Search Results in Raleigh, NC:
Search Results in Atlanta, GA:
As you can see, Google displays search results relevant to the user location. If there is such a big difference for two relatively close US cities, how can someone from outside the country properly optimize a local small business website?
To run an effective local Internet Marketing campaign, you need to see the search results that your target audience actually sees.