Google Localizes Their Search Results

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At the end of last month, I told all of you about two changes that Google had made to their search results. It looks like these weren’t the only changes they had up their sleeves, because they just announced another change today.

As most of you know, when you type in a search that is based locally (one example Google used in their post is restaurants in Zurich), you can expect that the first result on the page is probably going to be a map with local business results. However, Google is now expanding the way that they display local search results. Previously, if you typed in a generic search phrase like pizza, you would expect to see a list of ten regular SERP results. However, as a result of their latest change, this is now the result I get when I type in pizza:

Local Google Pizza Results

If you try this search for yourself, you will see a similar list of SERPs, but the local business results will be tailored to your specific area. As you may have been able to guess, Google is able to display these tailored results by matching your IP address to a broad geographical location.

So, what are the implications of this on the search engine community? There are three potential ones that I can think of off the top of my head. First, this obviously shows that local search is going to continue to become more important, so if you are a little rusty in this area, I recommend reading these two posts (which were published right here last summer):

Local Search Engine Optimization Basics – Part 1

Local Search Engine Optimization Basics – Part 2

Second, if the general population of Google users really takes to heart that they can find what they want without adding any sort of geographical or local term to their query, this could change their search habits over time (obviously, this would be a slow and gradual change, but it will be interesting to see if anything that significant does come of it).

Finally, and this is the big one, this addition to these SERP pages has made the top spots (three to five depending on the query) more valuable than ever. As Matt McGee found out in his interview, with these types of general queries, a Google engineer confirmed that “our ranking algorithms tend to rank the map in the middle of the page.” Therefore, while these results won’t be taking the top spot, if you aren’t listed in the first three to five spots, you are going to have even less visibility than before.

If there are any other potential implications you can think of, let’s discuss them in the comments below!

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