Heads Up - Google Either Moving OR Removing Search Location Setting

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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Herein lies the problem.

WE search city + keyword all the time naturally.

But more consumers search KW only, with no geo if they are looking for a business right in their city. Google knows they are in Dallas so when they search for Dentist, Google gives them Dallas Dentist. (Or Dentists close to search location if they are on mobile.)

I'd say 60 - 75% of searches are with NO geo modifier. And the rankings are totally different with and without geo. So if you are not checking rankings for Dentist and other primary KWs with your location set to Dallas you are missing out on a ton of rankings that are important to know about.

Additionally in the very recent past if you were searching for Dallas Dentist and you were in Dallas, you would see what most local searchers see.

BUT if you searched for Dallas Dentist and you are in New York, you would see totally different results. (It's gotten better, so not sure how much of an issue it still is.)

And a biggie to be aware of... certain problems in the past, like the bad one boxes that awarded one spammy business with a listing and locked everyone else out of the pack??? If you as an SEO searched for Dallas Dentist from somewhere else, you'd see a normal pack and not know anything was wrong. You had to set your location to Dallas to see the problem - to see your client was not ranking at all in reality for local Dallas searchers.

So being able to set location is important for a variety of reasons.
If you are only checking Dallas Dentist and related, you'd be missing out on a lot.

Okay... I already add the city or location when I'm doing ranking research for a search term related to a business location, especially when I work with businesses with locations in different cities or towns. I feel that turning off the location option helps reduce the impact of personalized search results.
Quite the opposite I'd say. Finding out how they appear and how they rank for the local customers that are searching for them is key. What you see from across the country does not matter. You need to be able to replicate what the locals and the biz owner are seeing.

And also so that what you see and report is what the owner sees when he checks. He might be in the pack at #3 for someone right in Dallas, but you just searching for Dallas Dentist might not show him ranking at all. Or the opposite, for you he's ranking and you tell him he's #3. He checks and he's really not when looking from Dallas.
 

Tim Colling

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Local Search Expert
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Sep 3, 2014
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For what it's worth, I am once again seeing (in Chrome) the Search Tools Location tool when I'm logged into Google, AND when I'm in an incognito window.

I'm afraid to say it, for fear of jinxing things, but it looks like it's back to normal for me, at least right this moment.

By the way, this is from my office in San Marcos, Linda. :D
 

cjonesmn

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Sep 11, 2013
Messages
12
Herein lies the problem.
I'd say 60 - 75% of searches are with NO geo modifier.
Well, I'd venture to guess that the average Google searcher does NOT know about the location setting, and that if they see too many results from a different location, then they will add the name of the city to their search, NOT change the settings. It's a hunch, but I think a very good one.

...Finding out how they appear and how they rank for the local customers that are searching for them is key.
I'm not disagreeing with that all all. In fact, this why I had mentioned that I do this most of the time earlier when I'm doing work for a client.

I guess I'm still not seeing the real issue if Google removes the location option from the settings... Again, I don't think the average Google searcher uses this feature. Obviously GEO is important when doing research for a client, BUT if I want to test a typical user search, I leave that feature off and instead add the location to the keyword search, if needed.
 
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Just chiming in to say, I still have this capability in both FF and Chrome, both on the main search page and behind the settings cog. I have never seen it disappear. Any thoughts, Linda, on whether the reports of missing functionality have resolved for people who initially reported them?
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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Hi Miriam,

The chatter has died down, but I assume that's mainly due to weekend.
I did see a couple say the problem resolved, but am not sure if it did for everyone.

Like you I've always had both options on both browsers.
 

Tim Colling

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In Oceanside I see it if I'm logged I but it is missing from incognito view.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Louis Nava

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Aug 10, 2013
Messages
88
I'm seeing Search Tools while logged out / incognito
No Search Tools while logged in.

Just thinking out loud based on an experience last month.

This makes sense especially if you have your Google account linked to a mobile device. Mobile devices are broadcasting some sort of location based on carrier.

There was a time last month when I would search on a desktop browser using the search tools and I would place myself in Las Vegas. The next time I searched on my mobile device it thought I was in Las Vegas. Maybe it was a bug or got confused, because I would attempt to change my location on my mobile device but it still said I was searching from San Diego. I went back to my desktop and switched it back to my city and all was good again.

Maybe it's temporary but I would think if this is Google we are talking about simpler is always better and same goes for their code.
 

Conor Treacy

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Feb 25, 2014
Messages
123
Just a heads up from my end in Omaha Nebraska;

We're still seeing the options both logged in, and out, and in IE, FF and Chrome. We see the option at the top of the page under the Tools and also the Search Settings "Location" setting which I'm loving is so specific (street specific rather than city specific).

With regards to users familiarity with the option to change cities, every person we've worked with for SEO over the years has had no clue they could change things except for one company we worked with in California, but even the staff we worked with said they knew about it, but never used it.

Maybe this issue has passed us by - for now.....
 

spadilla

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May 5, 2014
Messages
18
This makes sense especially if you have your Google account linked to a mobile device. Mobile devices are broadcasting some sort of location based on carrier.
Brilliant! I can confirm this exact thing. I have logged in with multiple accounts not associated with a mobile phone and the location setting is there. Any account that is associated with an Android phone account (meaning linked up with Google Play, etc.) the location setting is gone.

This makes complete sense to me.
 
Joined
Oct 15, 2015
Messages
57
I'm seeing the location setting option in Chrome both in incognito mode and when logged in with an account linked to an Android phone.

In case Google does take away this capability...please No....I often use the Adwords preview tool to do location-based searches. The only problem with that tool is that you can't expand out the snack pack. However, you can see all of the organic results.
 

NerdGroup

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Nov 9, 2015
Messages
1
so I thought it didn't affect me until I opened up my bot program. It looks like it it browser dependent in order to change. I default to IE6 on my bot program and it was missing. I reset the useragent to Chrome, cleared cookies, etc, and voila, location settings appeared.
 

stankolev

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Jul 21, 2015
Messages
50
I see the option in every browser so I can`t test. Someone who can`t see the option can test this and share the result.

What actualy happens when change the location ? Google send request to :

https://www.google.com/uul?muul=4_18&luul=ENTER_YOU_CITY_HERE&uulo=1&usg=SOME_UGLY_KEY_+_LANGUAGE

The problem is the SOME_UGLY_KEY_+_LANGUAGE

When you open google.com/?hl=bg there should be something like :

Code:
Google.com съществува на : English
Where english is link to

Code:
https://www.google.com/setprefs?sig=[B]0_KqAQBkIqYsf9A60xY2HXpeJsJvs%3D&hl=en[/B]&source=homepage
So that part between sig= and &source=homepage is the SOME_UGLY_KEY_+_LANGUAGE part. In this case it`s : 0_KqAQBkIqYsf9A60xY2HXpeJsJvs%3D&hl=en

Now replace ENTER_YOU_CITY_HERE with prefered city and SOME_UGLY_KEY_+_LANGUAGE with 0_KqAQBkIqYsf9A60xY2HXpeJsJvs%3D&hl=en and go to the the url :

Code:
https://www.google.com/uul?muul=4_18&luul=[B]London[/B]&uulo=1&usg=[B]0_KqAQBkIqYsf9A60xY2HXpeJsJvs%3D&hl=en[/B]
After that just open new tab, make a search and see if the results are for the prefered city.
 

Dennis Cline

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Jan 22, 2015
Messages
5
I'm still seeing location options in FF, Chrome and Safari.

If it becomes an issue, one potential work around might be an extension called Location Guard for FF, Chrome and Opera.

It's designed as a privacy tool, but includes a feature called Fixed Location that allows you to specify a location. In the developer's words:

The privacy level can be set to "Use fixed location". In this case Location Guard always reports to the website a predefined fixed location that never changes (instead of generating a fake location by adding noise to the real one). This offers the highest privacy, since the reported location is completely independent from the real one, at the cost of very low accuracy.

You can modify the fixed location from the extension's options (Fixed Location tab).

It doesn't hide your IP address, so if that's how Google locates, an IP address hiding extension may also be needed. But it appears to work well for Javascript geolocation.
 

Scott Rawlins

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Nov 14, 2012
Messages
1,065
From Mike Blumenthal today:

GOOGLE REMOVES THE LOCATION SETTING?

Off and on for the past two months, the search location setting as been disappearing for many folks only to come back again. Today Johnny Niumata noted it’s once again missing.
I'm not seeing any way to change search location logged in or out in either Chrome or FF. How about you guys?
 

Linda Buquet

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Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,436
Mark from Places Scout just contacted me about it too.

He's checked every browser and every way he knows and it's gone.

During the testing at the top of this thread at beginning of Nov, when others saw it missing, I always had it in both FF and Chrome.

Now it's gone for me, in both browsers AND in both places search and search settings.
 

Blaine

Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2015
Messages
4
Over the last 2 weeks I've been seeing the set location thing come and go. I'd open Firefox and it wouldn't be there. So I would open chrome and there it was. Then I'd go back to Firefox and it would be gone again.

Today it doesn't matter what browser I use. I just tried MS Edge and it's not even there..

I think that google is further trying to blind us SEO's and make our jobs harder. It just seems that most everything they do these days is designed to further drive small business into ppc.

I don't want to sound like a whiner but this is getting so old.

Don't be evil? I long for the old days.
 

Linda Buquet

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Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,436
I hear you Blaine, but I really think this is practicality and not designed to block SEOs from info.

Think about the fact that 99.9% of the world are not SEOs or involved in local search.

They search for stuff where they are at and Google is pretty good now at knowing your location. If you are going somewhere else and need to search there, people search for city + KW.

So I think it was a feature that less than .02% of the world used and most of that .02% just happened to be us. :mad:

But I know it's frustrating. I used that feature 20 times a day!
 

KabanaSoft

Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2012
Messages
30
As Linda noted, we observed that the ability to change the Google location setting using the Search Tools menu option in the SERPs was removed around 10:30AM PST today.

However, after several hours of investigation, debugging, and testing, we have devised a suitable workaround in Places Scout that will allow you to change the Google Location setting when running ranking and/or lead gen reports in Places Scout - we were able to get the desired location setting to display at the very bottom of the SERP page where Google is now reporting your current location for any specified location.

With this new method in place you can still check rankings for keywords that don't have the geo-modifier in the keyword and change the location setting to any desired location (works for international locations as well).

If anyone wants to give it a try you can signup for a free trial here: https://web.placesscout.com/account/register

and let us know your thoughts after running some reports and reviewing the results.
 

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