Google Knows Where You Live

    April 2, 2009
    WebProNews Staff

Google’s changing it up, and local search optimization just became very, very important.

It used to be a searcher had to be very specific about a query to bring back local results. To borrow from Search Engine Guide’s Miriam Ellis, who tips us off to the changes in the usual Google “10 pack,” or the top ten search results, a search for “chiropractor” reveals just how geographically targeted Google’s results are now.

In place of where the fourth search result would normally be for that result, Google Maps is inserted with a list a local (in my case, Lexington, KY) chiropractors. The paid search results are locally oriented as well.

In the past, a searcher had to modify a term like that to get specific location information. Now Google knows where you live and serves up results accordingly. The same thing happens with a query like “dentist.”

Google Dentist Search

“So far, we have confirmation that this is happening in the US, Canada, India, England, and The Netherlands, and so far, the majority of these new non-geo 10-packs are appearing in mid-page rather than at the very top of the SERPs,” writes Ellis. “As you can see in my screenshot, the vertical height of the 10-pack is pushing results 4-10 waaaay down the page, though we still appear to be getting 10 ‘regular’ results in addition to the local data.”

Of course that also makes getting your site listed in the top three results all that more important. If searchers were reluctant to scroll past the fifth result before, traditionally the scroll-point, they may be even less likely to look beyond a local maps insert.

This is certainly good news for anyone running a brick-and-mortar business or a geographically specific Web business. Ellis is right in that this may become a map-spam magnet, and it most certainly is also a blow to competing map services when Google brings up map information in its primary results.