Google made several interesting comments at a recent mobile marketing and advertising event stating one third of all Google searches via the mobile web pertain to some aspect of the searcher's local environment.
So just how important of a signal is location to Google? People already get different search results based on where they are, which has been the case for some time. Perhaps the real question is whether location will start carrying more weight as searchers increasingly turn to their mobile devices for a greater percentage of their queries.
Social networks are already becoming more integrated into search results through real-time search, as well as social search (not to mention the web in general through Facebook Connect, APIs, etc.). Given Google's fondness for delivering relevant results and an increased rate of user location sharing, it's hard not to imagine location becoming more of a factor in search than ever.
In recent months, Google has already begun placing a great deal more emphasis on location than it has in the past. For example, last month, they added a new search option to its list, called "nearby." This lets users filter their results based on either their default location or a custom one.