This morning when I was doing my daily check-up on client SERPs, I noticed something interesting. Above the number of returned results, Google informed me that my results were customized for the Nashville Metro area. My search wasn’t based on locale and was a pretty standard search term. So I decided to try several different searches and see if there was any pattern for the customization text. From what I could tell, there wasn’t any rhyme or reason why some searches would be chosen, and others wouldn’t.
Intrigued by this, I clicked the ‘more details’ link, which took me to a page that told me that the results I saw were based on my location and/or recent history. Bare in mind that I wasn’t signed into my GMail account, so the information (addresses, locale, etc) attached to my account shouldn’t have played a factor in the SERPs. What was interesting to me is that after telling me what they were doing, Google then informed me that if I was curious enough, I could see what my search would have looked like without their ‘improvements’ (because there’s obviously such a huge call for giant squid in Nashville).
I think this shows that we are finally seeing the emergence of local SEO becoming more prominent within our industry. Not only is ranking well in universal search important, but it could be to you and your clients detriment if they are not optimized for local search.
In regards to those who are concerned about their privacy, when I returned to the ‘more details’ page a few minutes later, I got the same text about my search being customized, but that this would only be kept for a short period of time and that no details were available about howmy search was customized. Google being their transparent best as always.