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Local Results Showing for Generic Search Terms

     
10:51 pm on Apr 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Noticed this a few days ago. Not sure if it's been discussed. Generic search terms are now showing local business results below the 3rd position in the SERPS...at least from my house. North Ga. USA.

Now searching for red widgets you're likley to see folks that offer them based on your geo location without using a location in the search phrase.

Could be great for local businesses...but not me.

"The fold" has been reduced to the top three from four to five depending on screen resolution.

Thoughts?

10:58 pm on Apr 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yes, this is a new expansion of local influence in the SERPs - for some query terms. It was mentioned on one of the Google blogs within the past week or so. I can't find that page at the moment but maybe someone else has the link to Google's official information.

[edited by: tedster at 7:05 pm (utc) on April 8, 2009]

12:27 pm on Apr 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Here you go [googleblog.blogspot.com...]
12:37 pm on Apr 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I do not understand why Google is showing local results for keywords for which no user would be interested in local results.

I searched for "Blue widget" (the actual keyword would have explained it all) and got some local results based upon my IP/geo, while there is nobody who would be looking for blue widgets local listing because that would be completely irrelevant.

These results are being shown for very generic keywords as well.

2:45 pm on Apr 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Ca-ching. There has to be a money path they're seeking here?
3:32 pm on Apr 8, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I started to see this last week for some of my major keywords. I don't have a local store, so thankfully I rank well enough to be above the current positioning of the local results.

It will be interesting to see if I will benefit from this since it will push my direct competitors even further down the page. My prices are significantly lower than local stores, so I'm not too worried about them.

5:55 am on Apr 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I do not understand why Google is showing local results for keywords for which no user would be interested in local results.

Clearly this is a work in progress. The Official Google Blog post cited above said as much....

We try to make our guesses as good as they can be so that whether you're shopping for [groceries], [sporting goods] or [flowers], or looking for your [bank], your [gym], or the [post office], you can just say what you want, and we'll try to find it right where you are.

I don't agree that all of the terms on this sample list should be local searches, and I'm sure there are many more that don't belong.

The blog post is about a week old, and Google is undoubtedly monitoring user satisfaction. In the initial Universal Search tests, Google dialed the Universal returns up high to get enough of a sample to normalize results, and I suspect we'll see the same pattern here.

It's likely that Google will find a lot of the queries they're testing aren't in fact intended to be local. I think they'll also find that the map results they're now showing aren't remotely close to satisfactory in metro areas.

That said, as Google points out in the blog post, there is a real problem. Many searchers looking for local results in fact don't enter the local area when they search. AdWords does permit location targeting, so to some extent this might be considered to be an attempt to reduce reliance on AdWords for this type of search. It's also inevitably going to drive some geo-neutral sites down, perhaps lower than many of us would like them to be.

I myself am uncomfortable at how much thinking Google is trying to do for searchers who know what they want, perhaps at the expense of those who do.

 

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