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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.