Many significant changes to the way Google serves search results have occurred in the last few months, most notable are Instant Search and full integration of Places in organic results. These changes further illustrate Google’s use of your location when determining what results to show the user. Google uses your IP address (and other geolocation factors) to determine your location. You can also manually set your location in the left sidebar.
These changes leave everyone asking “how will this affect optimizing efforts?”
We constantly analyze data to ensure our clients remain on the first page of results. With almost two months of data since Instant was released, we have seen that users are typing the location with less frequency.
Let’s look at a user searching for a chiropractor. At Google.com, as they begin to type c-h-i, suggestions and results will be displayed. Google is making numerous decisions as the user types each letter, most of which are based on the users location. Once the user has type C-H-I-R, Google begins to display Place results and the corresponding map. The results shown are based on Google’s prediction that the user is searching for Chiropractor (the first suggestion, with remaining letters appearing in light gray in the search box).
Now let’s look at a user who types “chiropractor in irvine ca,” perhaps because they are using their browser’s search box and are not presented with Place results after just four keystrokes. This query returns different results.
The below chart and screenshots demonstrate the difference between each query. In this scenario, the results are 100% different, not a single business listing is the same. Interesting to note that the first search result is the traditional 7-pack of business listings; while the second result set is the new local-hybrid results.
“Chiropractor in Irvine CA”
|A||Zen Care Wellness Center||Chiropractor In Irvine, Lee Chiropractic|
|B||Irvine Chiropractor Wellness Center Irvine||Chiropractor Irvine, CA|
|C||Shakib Mamak DC- Shakib Mamak DC||Irvine, CA Chiropractor at Edlund Chiropractic P.C.|
|D||Chiropractic Sanctuary The||Chiropractic Center of Irvine|
|E||Irvine Family Chiropractic||Orange County Chiropractor|
|F||Roger Lee Chiropractic Inc||Bocchino Chiropractic|
|G||Burns Chiropractic and Sports Clinic||Yoga Shakti Wellness Center|
This variation of search results holds true for a majority of queries performed with and without the location. This emphasizes the importance of a well optimized website and sophisticated local online marketing strategy.