Yet another very interesting article over at seo by the sea by Bill Slawski talking about local search and new patents filed by Google. In this new article he talks about Google removing the display of the distance score from their listings.
He assumes that this is due to the fact that Google may have reduced the importance of the distance to the geographical centre of the where-term in the rating algorithm.
The question how important the distance is to a give query is hard to answer. On the one hand we know that people spend 85% of their lifetime in a geographical radius of about 25 km.
So for a bakery or a restaurant the distance is to be seen very important and therefore should get a rather high score in the algorithm. For another group of queries this score needs to be reduced. If you think about buying a car or new furniture, one is more willing to travel to get what he/she really wants or for a better price etc.
The new patent talks about “Location Prominence” and Bill does some guessing around what factors could add up to a prominence score.
Read on its well worth a read