Is Google a Local Pusher?

by Stephen Pitts on August 30, 2008

Back in May, I noticed what appeared to be a test by Google to add more relevancy to search engine result (SERPs) by publishing a search box for geographical modifiers to a requested search query (Google Pushing Local Results). See image below:

Google Pushing Local Results?

If you used the “looking for local” search box, this would modify the SERPs to show a geographical target and return a map of local results. I am sure many of you have seen this, but an example is given below:


Google Map in Search Results

Google has taken it a step further. A few days ago, while doing some research online for a particular keyword search query, the following information (located at the top right of the page) caught my attention in the search results page:

Customized Search Results for Geographical Location
Note: I was not signed into a Google account while receiving these results.

Looking for additional information, I clicked on the More details link next to the results and was given the following:

Google Geographical Customization

Additionally, subsequent queries have produced similar adjustments to search engine results. Once again, without being logged into a Google account, the search results have been altered. This time was “based upon recent search activity.”

Google Custom Results

Looking for more information, I clicked on the More details link again and was given similar results as the previous search:

Google Custom Results

So, this begs the question: Does geographical modifiers really provide for more relevant results?

When I moved to the Cleveland area, earlier this year, I was without a phone book or a network of people that I could depend on for finding the little things in my area, like a grocery store and local restaurants. I did try to get results for local things then, but I added the geographical modifiers to my search queries. I was rather disappointed in the results I received and ended up braving the winter weather to do some exploring on my own to find what I was looking for. I also know that I have very different search behaviors as compared to normal users, however, do many use the internet to find information for their local areas or is the intent of going online and searching for something related more to the fact that they are looking for results from everywhere else?

I wanted to share my findings with you and find out your thoughts and opinions were?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

stock trading September 25, 2008 at 9:47 am

Great post, I think you’re right that google tries to give local companies and smaller companies an edge by using zip code info of google users.

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Colocation hosting October 14, 2008 at 4:45 pm

it is better to receive local results, like for instans i want to go to a nice restaurant in the area i dont want to get results from other contries

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Leo October 16, 2008 at 9:22 pm

I think it all depends on what the searcher is looking for. For instance, locally no one really searches for the closest mcdonalds because they already know where mcdonalds is. But what about when someone gets hurt or is going through a divorce? Then they are probably not so familiar with that kind of local business so they look it up online.

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