In a constant effort to improve search experience, over the years Google has tweaked its algorithm to include search results that take into account geographic location of the user performing a search query. But how does this work? And how has it changed? It used to be as simple as websites pulling the IP address of your device to roughly determine your approximate location, but now with the HTML5 Geolocation API, web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, or Edge can use data from GPS, Wi-Fi networks, cell towers, Bluetooth all in addition to the computer’s IP address. Fascinating.
That all being said, how can one accurately perform local search outside of their geographical location?
Historically, one could set their location for search results as an option under ‘Search Tools’ on the search results page. This is now removed completely as of the beginning of December 2015. Don’t fret though, with some proper education (all touched upon in this blog) you can stay one step ahead of this change and walk tandem with the Google search engine. There are two different ways to check local rankings outside of your device’s geographical location. Let’s start with the more intense version and then finish off with the quick and easy version. (For all of you wanting to skip a head to learn the faster method, scroll down the page to Method 2, although it’s worth mentioning that Method 1 does show you a powerful tool within Google Chrome.)
For the purpose of this test, let’s choose a keyword that is can be locally targeted: “memory care“. Next let’s choose our targeted region we’d like to search from; for that let’s say “Highland, California“.
For the purpose of keeping as many variables controlled as possible for the next method, let’s stick to the same keyword “memory care” and the same region “Highland, California“.
The Take Away
Both methods will help you get more accurate search results for geographical locations you are not currently in! Method 2 is the quickest while Method 1 is more robust, giving a clearer image of what ranks would show up if you were at that specific city (right down to the longitude and latitude). The important thing to note for business owners is to make sure to google with correct location identifiers or use Method 1 for more accurate local SEO ranking practices. And for all of you everyday Google searchers remember that your geographic location effects the search results that will be displayed.
And there you go! Geolocation and its uses all in one small blog package!
Austin Hunt | Local SEO Magician