Google Confirms & Talks About Expanded Local Results

In a blog post today, Google confirms what we and others reported last week — they’re now showing local results on non-local queries.

Google says they’re guessing the searcher’s location, “in most cases” by using your IP address. As I pointed out last week, this isn’t always the most accurate solution. And, as Greg Sterling pointed out, Google will eventually replace IP-targeting with improved triangulation/GPS right in the web browser/device you’re using.

Meanwhile, Google Software Engineer Jim Muller replied to the questions we emailed last week when I wrote the original article on this. A few days have passed, but here’s what Jim had to say about the new expanded local search results.

Matt: Has this been rolled out for all Google users, or are only some people getting these results?

Jim: Yes, this is now available to all users worldwide.

How many terms have you targeted for this expansion of the 10-pack? (I don’t get the 10-pack when I search for “cars”, for example.) Are we talking dozens or hundreds of terms? More?

Many many more. We try to include all the world’s local information in the database that we search, so all that’s really required is a match to a place that’s near you. For example if you search for specific stores or specific street addresses near you, we will often show the map. The map can appear in all the usual configurations: in groups of 10, groups of 3, or alone.

But as you noted, we don’t always show the map. We try to show it whenever our algorithms determine that it will be most useful.

The 10-pack on these broad queries never seems to show up at the top of the results — not even “pizza.” Is that by design, or might it appear at the top for certain queries?

For these queries, the user’s intent is less explicitly local than for a query like [pizza baltimore], so our ranking algorithms tend to rank the map in the middle of the page. For the highest quality single results, our ranking algorithms often place them higher on the page, and in particular street address queries often appear on a map at the top, as we would with a strong user intent query.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Universal Search | Google: Web Search


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • CarrieHill

    Gotta tell you – if you dont live in a large-ish city this feature stinks. I live in the mountains 3 hours west of denver – over 2 mountain passes.

    I searched for “pizza” while signed into my Google account and say a 10 box for pizza places not even in the same AREA CODE – denver and colorado springs restaurants – over 3 hrs from me.

    I think this needs some work – especially for the millions of us that use it and dont live in a metro area.

    My $.02 :)

  • Matt McGee

    Carrie — where’s your ISP? I don’t exactly live in a big metropolis and it’s not great, but a lot better than you’re describing. We have maybe 150,000 in the Tri-Cities region.

  • chiropractic

    I just checked “pizza” in Los Angeles and the 10 box appears in position #4. Problem is results read… Local business results for pizza near San Jose, CA 95134. Must be a ookie or something in Firefox, not logged in. Checked from IE7 and get Local business results for pizza near Culver City, CA. That’s much closer but not perfect. Clicking on the map though brings up what appears to be hundreds of pizza locations within a 20 mile radius. #nom nom

  • Wickerpedia

    Google has all that data and we’re led to believe they still use IP targeting to serve ads? I mean, anyone who has every search query I conducted and knows every link I ever clicked on can paint a pretty accurate demographic and geographic picture of me.

  • CarrieHill

    @MattMcGee – our ISP is the city of Glenwood Springs, CO where the office is located – they provide community broadband and when I tested the IP it showed up in our town – not in denver. There are pizza places in Glenwood with local search presence so not sure why Google would show me Denver vs. local stuff.

    at HOME my ISP is Qwest – which is in Denver so that makes sense.

    I think this targeting is – again – for large-ish towns. We’re about population 12k I think – so pretty small.

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