In the 10 years since Google went public, it has evolved from an internet search engine based on indexing words and links into an “internet destination, offering content and commerce within an ever-growing array of Google services,” says the Wall Street Journal. Fortunately, a part of that evolution in focus helps Google users find small businesses.

As we explored recently, much of the shift in Google’s approach can benefit a large segment of small businesses that are focused on serving geographic-defined or industry-specific markets. For example, restaurants and retail shops that once were buried in search results that focused on national chains today enjoy the benefits of Google Maps and other location-based technology that is packed into smartphones or any device connected to the web.

Rather than links to websites, Google today is more focused on search results that answer the questions the company’s algorithms determine the searcher is seeking. If a user is registered on Google in some way, either by using the Chrome browser or having a GMail or YouTube account or an account with Google +, Google is able to refine to a greater-and-greater degree what exactly the user is seeking. Even without being logged into anything Google-branded, the search can respond to location data from the phone or wifi connection.

The more a user indicates a preference to words and terms that indicate he or she is seeking information in a certain industry or a from a specific company or website, the more likely the results are going to point to users’ favorite sources.

Why is this good for small businesses? It means that a search by existing customers will likely come back to you as long as they keep indicating a preference for the content and help you provide, and the services and products you offer.

(Photo: mxingm via Flickr)

You can find more coverage of Google, along with guides and tips, by visiting our Google Topic archive. For more about the magic behind Google’s approach to the type of search described in this post, visit Google’s explanation of its “Knowledge Graph

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