Google Localizing Search Results Based on the Search Query

David Naylor highlighted how some Google UK and IE search results are showing primarily Australian websites because some of those keywords are most frequently searched for in Australia. Conversely some Australian search results were returning primarily UK websites for keywords that are more popular in the UK.

If you can't rank for a specific keyword it is worth looking at the composition of the search results and seeing if Google is localizing it to another region. Yet another reason to have a multi-domain strategy if you are targeting many markets.

Published: October 25, 2009 by Aaron Wall in google


October 25, 2009 - 5:35pm

Is this "localising to another region" simply a bug? What's the point of listing Aussie tennis courts for hire when you're searching in the UK? Or hiring football courts in Australia, but get UK results? I think Google didn't catch the local implication of those searches.

October 25, 2009 - 8:17pm

Sure it is unintentional...but it still helps reveal a piece of the relevancy algorithms ;)

October 26, 2009 - 3:50am

Interesting - it seems Google isn't seeing the local implication in words like "hire" and "rent" (try searches yourself). Perhaps I'm assuming too much, but wouldn't these words imply you want to hire/rent something near your location? (if you don't include a location in the keyphrase).

October 26, 2009 - 8:04am

I am pretty sure Google will figure it out in time, especially since this issue has got decent coverage.

October 31, 2009 - 1:52am

Google's relentless drive to localise results is king sized pain in the butt not to mention a good reason to find another search provider.

In Australia we want results from other countries. We don't typically want local providers.

We are a geographically isolated country with a small population and often as consumers we simply can't get things locally or even nationally. (It's simply not worth it for businesses to import and stock niche or specialty items that might be readily available in the US or Europe.)

As such the web and search has been a godsend to Aussie consumers as we can finally track down and order those products and services we've always wanted.

If Google keeps showing up more and more local results at the expense of international ones, then the whole point of Google becomes irrelevant.

And that's just on the consumer side.

It counts double for Australian based businesses. For exactly the same reasons, geographic isolation and small local population, many small Australian businesses want to reach out to the global marketplace to attract more customers.

If Google keeps isolating them to just Australian users, then again the whole point of Google becomes irrelevant.

I feel Google has erred badly on this one.

Localization is a disservice to it's users and seems designed purely to generate advertising dollars.

I think the backlash against this is only just starting to build. Hopefully Google will rethink and rectify these issues before to long.

October 31, 2009 - 2:16pm

@mdg33: Not that Im a huge fan of Google, but I think they probably have some rather smart people in their company...I also think they probably track relentlessley what they're doing on the web.

I would be really surprised if they don't find this out soon enough.

If it gets too annoying for Australians, they'll probably switch to another search provider, Google will see their market share in OZ fall, and try to figure out the reason why people are leaving for a competitor..and then counteract.

If it bothers you personally, why not just set the search results to .com / US for example? I'm from Germany and have to do that all the time to see the SERPs I want to see (as it seems theyre showing me UK serps more than US serps, which might make sense considering the cost of shipping/time is lower for UK -> Germany..than for US -> germany).

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