Breaking: Will Google Kill Search Location Setting? Bad News for Local SEO if So

Jo Shaer

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Jul 27, 2012
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Im in the UK and I never saw any of it - but I guess I should be glad.

An SEO guru was reporting that in NZ they are seeing a trial of ads with a white background rather than the traditional slightly coloured one which alerts people that they are ads and then followed those with an additional ad section called "Searches relating to [search term]" with a series of links to ads for related searches - which pushed the organic section to below the fold.

It seems fairly clear that Google are going for the money. But what this means for unbiased search is anyone's guess. Surely someone from the Monopolies Commission must be watching their activities...?
 

BCLocal

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Jul 31, 2012
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I'm in Utah and I no longer see the custom location box in the SERPs! The world is ending!!!!:eek:

UPDATE: It's just me. I caution others to double check before they post during lunch;)
 

Linda Buquet

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But Miriam are you still seeing the old left menu or the new top nav?

I still have the old left menu - no changes. At least in FF when logged in. When I get a sec I need to go check with Chrome and check logged out and see if I see anything new. Been a little busy today with all the announcements so have not had time to thoroughly check yet.
 

Linda Buquet

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I'm in Utah and I no longer see the custom location box in the SERPs! The world is ending!!!!:eek:

UPDATE: It's just me. I caution others to double check before they post during lunch;)
Before you edited post to add that 2nd line I was going to exclaim...
"OH NO the update with no location setting is hitting US."

Glad it was just a brain fart due to lunch!!! :p
 

BCLocal

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But Miriam are you still seeing the old left menu or the new top nav?
Bingo! This was exactly it for me. Between the 5 minutes I was off Google it switched to the top nav. Freaked me out because the left menu was completely GONE! Problem solved.
 

Linda Buquet

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I just checked and have the old left nav everywhere, so must depend which server you are sitting on.
 
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Hi Linda,
Still have the old left nav in FF. Haven't checked in Chrome. Could be browser specific at this point??? Maybe. So busy this afternoon. Haven't had time to check.
 

BCLocal

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Hi Linda,
Still have the old left nav in FF. Haven't checked in Chrome. Could be browser specific at this point??? Maybe. So busy this afternoon. Haven't had time to check.
I think it is browser specific because I still get the old left nav in Firefox. Only in Chrome is it the new top nav for me so far.
 
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I'm still seeing the old/current search interface but did see the new one. I suppose its something that I don't use as I typically use my Google-fu to do searches such as:

Bar NEAR Durham, NH
Bar IN Durham, NH

These always have returned location based searches and if done in the typical Google Web search the Places results are grouped together usually the 4th group of links down and ends with "More results near Durham, NH" The results are always the same if I use the IN/NEAR operator with a location or manually setting it. The new interface seemed to be more slick and more tablet friendly.
 

Linda Buquet

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Sorry wasn't clear on this. Are you saying you naturally search KW in or near City? Or are you doing that for some specific mapper or scientific reason???

I ask because my assumption is that not many joe surfers search with in or near.

However thought you may have a specific reason. For instance with queries that don't usually pull local results, like City SEO for instance. Sometimes if you search SEO in or near City it will pull local.
 
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Sorry wasn't clear on this. Are you saying you naturally search KW in or near City? Or are you doing that for some specific mapper or scientific reason???

I ask because my assumption is that not many joe surfers search with in or near.

However thought you may have a specific reason. For instance with queries that don't usually pull local results, like City SEO for instance. Sometimes if you search SEO in or near City it will pull local.
Linda, I typically use IN or NEAR for a place I want to search for in a specified location so I don't have to keep setting my location. (ie. I'm in Concord, NH but want to search for things in Durham, NH). You could put anything before IN or NEAR City, State and it will conduct the search for a business as if the search was from that location. Am I thinking about something entirely different from you and others?

My understanding is that if you are manually setting location to find how things will rank using the operator accomplishes the same thing. Even if Google doesn't have a location for the user it uses IP address Geo-location to approximate a location.
 

Linda Buquet

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Well in the SEO world sometimes we need more detail and SOMETIMEs search is totally different based on how location is set.

Other important thing is TONS more consumers search via KW only with no city. So to see exactly what your clients customers are seeing in that location you need to switch city.

Here's a crazy example where city KW search + location settings are totally opposite what they SHOULD be.

Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

Often ranking is same for KW no matter what the location settings are but MANY times ranking are better if you set location to that city. But sometimes as in above it's the other way around, so you have to check.
 
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Well in the SEO world sometimes we need more detail and SOMETIMEs search is totally different based on how location is set.

Other important thing is TONS more consumers search via KW only with no city. So to see exactly what your clients customers are seeing in that location you need to switch city.

Here's a crazy example where city KW search + location settings are totally opposite what they SHOULD be.

Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

Often ranking is same for KW no matter what the location settings are but MANY times ranking are better if you set location to that city. But sometimes as in above it's the other way around, so you have to check.
Linda, I think we're talking about the same thing just in different ways. Say I'm in Durham NH at UNH and I am searching Google via Chrome in Incognito mode. When I go to search my location isn't going to be set but Google knows the UNH IP I use is from Durham, NH. So it sets the location of the search to Durham. (or that's been my experience). This is the same as if I manually set my location in Search to Durham, NH or appended Durham, NH after a keyword search + "NEAR" or "IN" ("bar NEAR Durham, NH"). I could search a location but if I don't use Google format for location things will get screwy as you linked to. Persumably this is because Google is unsure if you want results from a certain area or if searching for a place name that happens to be a location. You can still those searches as if you were in the location using the IN or NEAR opperator after your keyword search. My typical search for Portland Ice Cream will be different if I don't have a location set but Google knows I'm in Durham NH than if I'm in or set my location to Seattle, Washington. My local search would pick up Portland Maine locations while the Seattle search would pick up Portland Oregon searches.

To summerize: I am almost convinced that Google uses the location of your IP address to process searches which would be the same as the location if set manually or using the "NEAR city, state" method. The only issue I could see is if a persons physical location is different from the estimated location of the IP address. Unfortuantely that's an inherent problem that I persume SEOs have little control/influence over.
 

Linda Buquet

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FYI all: A Googler just replied to me in that thread and said:

"@Linda -- correct, the location filter should still be there."

So yay sounds like it should continue to be a feature. For those of you that had it missing, think maybe bug or temporary glitch. He said engineers are looking into other problems.
 

seanpearse

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Oct 26, 2012
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FYI all: A Googler just replied to me in that thread and said:

"@Linda -- correct, the location filter should still be there."

So yay sounds like it should continue to be a feature. For those of you that had it missing, think maybe bug or temporary glitch. He said engineers are looking into other problems.
A happy ending after all! :) Thank God for that!

Being from North West Ireland, I use this feature many times EVERY day. My IP is constantly recognised as being in Dublin (as is everyone else in the Northern half of the Republic of Ireland) so losing this feature would be a disaster.
 

Jason Kamara

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Jul 25, 2012
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Thanks a lot for confirming that, Linda. The custom location setting has indeed returned for me and continues to work in Mark's Places Scout as well. So good news all around!
 

Linda Buquet

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Jason, saw your post and screenshot at the Google forum yesterday.

"I thought that Google was testing out a new SERP layout. I noticed the search options on the Left had been moved to the top (probably to make more room for display ads). A couple weeks ago I was unable to change location setting. Instead of being able to change the search location to another city/province, all I can now do is select whether I want to prioritize search results at the City, Region or State Level. How useless is this feature? About a week ago the old left sidebar had returned but it has since disappeared on both Chrome and Firefox whether I'm logged in or logged out. For the love of God, please bring back the custom location setting."

So that screenshot is what you are seeing NOW? Can't pick city??? :confused:
 

Jason Kamara

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Jul 25, 2012
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Yes, Linda. That's correct.

I thought I was in the clear after the scare last week. But once again the new layout has presented itself in both Firefox and Chrome. I get the new layout with the screenshot I uploaded on Google.com. Luckily, I'm still able to choose location on Google.ca.

I thought things had pretty much returned to normal since there weren't any more comments on this thread. But I can see that there people on the Google search forum still having problems, some of which may be due to experimentation with a new SERP layout. Thanks for working on both ends to help resolve these difficulties.
 

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