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Google insists on showing me local serps

 1:41 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

I go to Google via https://www.google.de/?pws=0 and deacticate my cookies before.

I#d like to check some rankings without Google to consider my residence. I need the true objective rankings.

But Google shows me local "places" entries of my city, so obviously they still give me local serps!?

What can I do?



 3:05 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

'pws=0' will only remove the effect of your personal search history from the rankings. Localization is a separate factor, and if your query falls into one of the categories where Google serves localized results, it's going to be that way for most users. You can change your location in your account settings to see other results, but I don't think you can find any more generalized ranking.


 5:11 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

But Google can only apply localization if they know where I am and how do they know, after both deactivating cookies and pws=0?

Do they cooperate with the NSA? :)

There must be a way because all ranking tools have to use serps without localization. You think, the only way is to give the country in the settings manually?


 5:16 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

But Google can only apply localization if they know where I am and how do they know, after both deactivating cookies and pws=0?

They look at your IP address to see where you are located.

Try using proxies from various locations to see SERPs for this location.

Robert Charlton

 8:06 pm on Sep 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

There must be a way because all ranking tools have to use serps without localization.

So you would think, but it's interesting how many of the tool providers haven't even thought about this issue.

That said, it's also an extremely difficult issue to handle, because there are times when Google's results are hyper-localized, so much so that shifting your location just a few miles can change them. There are other times when such extreme localization doesn't appear to be happening, or it's happening on a different set of queries.

See my fairly long post in this thread, from back in February, 2012, which chronicles various tests I've run....

False High Rankings - just our work location
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4423084.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Note that the default location you can set on the Google serps page provides apparently dependable control... so you may not even have to use proxies. Chances are the results are localized to city-center of the specified city. I remember that a test was run a year or two ago using searchers all over the US connected by telephone, and the locations which distant searchers set manually produced results that were the same as what local searchers got. (If anyone can find the original discussion of that experiment, please feel free to mention it here).

The manual location setting currently is buried in "Search tools", up at the top of the Google serps page beneath the search box. The tools menu brings up a line of several options, and to the far right are the location settings.

The closest I've gotten to a neutral result where I live (in northern California) is to specify "United States", and it's possible that countryname may work elsewhere. Some abbreviations (like "US") also work, but that may depend on the sequence of other settings I've tried and when I've flushed cookies, etc. "Anywhere" is not a "recognized location".

I don't know, btw, how useful rankings for a countryname location actually would be to you. It may be that localized results will give you a better idea of what a typical searcher would see for typical searches in other locations.

Possibly, a sophisticated tool could run multiple searches in major locations and determine averages. Something similar may have been done on some commercial tools that "correct" for personalization, but location is the most distinct of all personalization factors. It's hard to "average" it out.

To add one further thought... I've also determined that searchers in different regions of the country are likely to use different vocabulary in some queries... so that's a whole other set of variables.


 9:48 pm on Sep 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

Unless your site depends largely on localized traffic, if your target search terms get highly/hyper localized it's almost futile to try to check the rankings. You could check major cities, of course, but I think you quickly start to reach a point of diminishing returns. I only faced this situation once, but I started to simply watch the results in WMT for trends and changes rather than worry about absolute ranking positions.


 10:52 pm on Sep 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

Tool providers are not aware of localization? Even today? You're kidding?
Every user who is familiar with his rankings probably would realize that there is something wrong. And mainly profs use tools...

"Country" should be o.k. for me. And it should be the most simple way for providers too (?).

Checking rankings and their changes needs a reliable basis, so that you can compare changes, results must be comparable. Right? So I would think I ALWAYS should use the country, nothing else.

I really appreciate a forum where some people are able and willing to make tests and share their results. If I were a web prof I certainly would become a supporter.

My business is not localized highly.
I don't think KW and ranking differences of different cities are as big in Germany as in the US.


 2:02 am on Sep 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Can you use a proxy from a different country? If you check google dot some-specific-country and you don't live in the country, they're forced to go generic.

This won't work in a handful of countries that simply don't give access to IPs from outside-- but who wants to check google dot cn or dot sa anyway? :)

brotherhood of LAN

 3:01 am on Sep 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

There are some ranking tools that are aware of how to issue a specific location with the query, and yes, rankings can vary greatly depending on location. I check some UK terms for example, where's it fairly hard to ascertain where someone actually lives from their IP... and the rankings can still vary quite greatly, 20-30 positions.

The location var Google uses is typically stored in the cookie PREF under the L= value, which contains a hash-type value.

Aside from Google automatically figuring out your location, you can change it on the Google UI under "Search Settings -> Location". Note that "New York, NY" and "new york, ny" would return a different L= hash-type value.

apply localization if they know where I am and how do they know, after both deactivating cookies and pws=0?

Aside from the IP->location lookup, try disabling javascript and loading up the URL directly.

e.g. www.google.com/search?q=widget

FWIW Google knows where I am in .ca, as Google maps loads up within 5 miles of my house, but for their SERPs my geotargetting appears to be switched off (I am not logged in).

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