More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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In case you missed the news, Google removed Search Location settings yesterday. For the past couple months that setting has come and gone and moved around so we assumed they were either testing or a big change was rolling out. Yesterday it happened worldwide from what I'm reading.

So if you are a consultant in Dallas, how do you accurately check rankings for "Dentist" (without geo-modifier) for a client in New York? All you can do now is search for Dentist, which will show you Dentists in Dallas, not New York.

FYI there is much speculation about this. Some suggesting that Google did it to hide info from SEOs like they do with KW not provided. I don't think that at all. I really think this is practicality and not designed to block SEOs from info. 99.9% of the world are NOT SEOs or involved in local search. Regular people search for local services in their area. And Google has gotten really good at knowing where you are located. So I think that feature was used so little, Google decided it was no longer needed. But I know it's frustrating.
I used that feature 20 times a day!

HERE are some SOLUTIONS/TOOLS/HACKS that will help you search other locations to simulate the search results that show in that area.

The 1st one is a simple query hack.

It comes via Darren Shaw from Whitespark at the Local Search Pros G+ Community.


I misunderstood and thought Darren was changing query to add "near city".
But he’s appending that to the URL string, as I illustrated above.

Darren said: "I'm talking about just searching "dentist" and then MODIFYING THE URL to add this parameter to it: &near=CITYNAME. For example:


By adding the near parameter, you are doing the same thing as the old function to set the location."

Thanks for explaining Darren! That totally makes sense and works.

The rest of the suggestions come from the forum thread where we've been discussing this for the past month, since Google started playing with the dials.

<a href="">Google Either Moving OR Removing Search Location Setting</a>

Mark from Places Scout (KabanaSoft) was the 1st to alert me yesterday. Then he posted that they were able to craft a work around for Scout.

As Linda noted, we observed that the ability to change the Google location setting using the Search Tools menu option in the SERPs was removed around 10:30AM PST today.

However, after several hours of investigation, debugging, and testing, we have devised a suitable workaround in Places Scout that will allow you to change the Google Location setting when running ranking and/or lead gen reports in Places Scout - we were able to get the desired location setting to display at the very bottom of the SERP page where Google is now reporting your current location for any specified location.

With this new method in place you can still check rankings for keywords that don't have the geo-modifier in the keyword and change the location setting to any desired location (works for international locations as well).

If anyone wants to give it a try you can signup for a free trial here: let us know your thoughts after running some reports and reviewing the results.

FYI Darren from WhiteSpark and Myles from BrightLocal both said their rank trackers are working now too.

More solutions from the forum thread above...

I found another workaround that lets you set the location in Firefox using a browser extension called Location Guard.

Location Guard is designed as a privacy tool, but it also has an option to set a fixed location. Once you pick your location on a map, you can update your search location by clicking on the use precise location/update location link at the bottom of a google serp.

Other one is Geolocater ( ), the difference is that in Geolocater you can make profiles and when share location, to select from them.

I have used this: (Custom location, language, device & personalization Google Search tool to preview ads & results)

Also gives the option to choose devices. A lot quicker than using G-operators.

Thanks for all the tools suggestions to get around this problem guys.

Vick it appears that tool is simulating the Google Ad Preview tool, which I meant to re-test and mention last night. I assume it still works like before which was really good for location emulation. Didn't get around to testing but assume it still works.

Mike also posted about this yesterday and a rather complicated solution was mentioned there by Chris Koszo for using Chrome developer tools in Emulation mode: <a href="">Google Removes the Location Setting?</a>

So there you have it! Pros to the rescue with 9 tools/hacks to emulate location.

Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

To add to that - this is one I've used in Chrome - requires the Lat/Long but can work.

1. Enter your search in Google per usual
2. From the SERP hit Ctrl+Shift+I (this opens Developer Tools)
3. Make sure you have the "Console" tab visible (if not select the “Console” tab)
4. Select the Emulation tab
5. Select "Sensors" from the choices on the left
6. Check the box next to "Emulate geolocation coordinates" and enter your coordinates
7. Refresh the SERP page, re-enter your search, or search for other keywords
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

Assuming you have Maps set up.

A simpler way is just to put near home or near work after the search phrase.
Google Drops Change Location Search Filter From Search Results

According to Search Engine Land:

Google has quietly dropped the ability to filter your search results by changing your location. In the past, you would be able to click on the ?Search Tools? option and set a location. This would give you search results as if you were in that location.

read all article - Google Drops Change Location Search Filter From Search Results

The solution to still be able to check rankings on different locations is to use Local IPs from the location you need to check the Google Rankings
Re: Google Drops Change Location Search Filter From Search Results

Thanks Paul!

Thanks Serg. We already had 2 other threads going about this so I merged your post into the most recent one.
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

Thanks Linda!

What is also important for the Local Search community to know is that only by manipulating location filters or Google URL they will not get the same results as a local user.

In order to see 100% the same results they shall use Local IPs or remote machines, otherwise the results can be even 70% different than what a local user is seeing.
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

Thanks for all these tips, we were a little stumped in the office at what to do next.
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

Barry just reported he got an update/confirmation from Google.

It's a official, it was removed, not a test. And it's for the reason I've been saying.

Barry said: "Update: A Google spokesperson told us this feature was intentionally removed last week. Google said, "it was getting very little usage, so we're focusing on other features."
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

OK here is another tool... Posted at Mike's blog.

A bookmarklet that allows you to search Google by location
Made by Chris Desrochers

Chris said: "I made a bookmarklet which allows you to search Google by location. I hope that helps:"
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

I agree with Serg that tweaking the search url does not produce the same results as someone in that actual location. Has anyone actually compared the results from some of the other approaches mentioned here? I know that's a tough one because every little variation on how you search can produce different results, even using the old "location" setting vs. your computer ip produced different results.

Serge, do you have an easy way of getting local ip's for where you want to test?
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

Thanks Tony and Serg, I've been planning to test that but have been ill all week.

I'll try to today if I can, otherwise will try to get a post out next week.
(Only if I find anything interesting.)
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

I've used the location tool a lot over the years. I mourn its passing.

I've tried some of the hacks and workarounds. Some successes, some failures.

Now we specifically use them for smaller niche smb types. They have thin competitiion and its more regional than focused on a single city or town. Hence in a major metro area we can show in the pack for many many towns. (that is an anomaly...I know).

In any case we've used the location tool to ramble through adjacent suburban communities in a metro area. Are we 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the Pac or not in it...and what might we do to get better rankings in the Pac or show when we might be 4th or 5th.

The tool that seems to be the most granular to date is adwords. yep adwords. Its a paid tool.

I'm seeing very precise responses that mirror what we were seeing a week ago. I'm not seeing that with all the workarounds.

BTW: I used the adwords tool for pizza and repeated the same sequence. I got good granular local data.

Adwords is a helluva tool for detailed data. If you want great info but don't want to spend much....set up ads that will show toward the bottom of the list of ads. Work at it a bit, to hit the right bid price.

If you hit the lowest positions in the ads it won't cost much as you won't get many hits. Meanwhile you will get great great data that you can't get otherwise.
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

I'm getting several questions from multi-location clients around the removal of the search option for targeting a specific location. It turns out that Sergiu is correct from all the tests I've ran. Regardless of the parameter 'hack' Google is going to show a different result based on the IP than the using the near parameter.

For example, I tested Darren's "dentist" example with and without the param in an incognito window. The results are indeed different.


Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

The location setting was one of my quickest assets for checking rank accuracy, market research and a myriad of other tasks. Thanks for sharing all of these alternatives. Although I doubted the change was directed at our industry it is nice to know that they aren't trying to make our jobs harder in vain.
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

I actually found the solution for this BEFORE Google's 'Change Location' setting/feature was removed, SO glad we did, it's been a life saver! We were using it to search by location, but from mobile.

The &near= search that's been suggested works, but it's not the same as the results you got before (see below).

I Search From -- I'm not affiliated with them in any way, but it works the exact same as Google's Search by Location feature.

Below, you can see the difference in search results w/ the &near search versus emulating the actual location (which you get w/ iSearchFrom).

I wrote about this in more detail here, which explains the parameters used, and how you can actually do this yourself (in case iSearchFrom gets removed or becomes a paid service or something) - Google Search by Location Removed: How to Filter Geo-Location - Wired SEO

Google Search ?dentist? in Houston, TX


Google Search ?dentist? NEAR Houston, TX



Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

This isearchform is nice because once the search tab is opened, you can do other keyword variations for that location right from that google search.

What about KW trackers that lake local area into account? I don't currently use it but I recall that BrightLocal has a feature for this for reporting. I wonder what method they use?
Re: 9 Tools & Hacks to Emulate Google Search Location - Since that Setting is Gone

Cody shared another really cool one on G+ today, then Joy shared it with our G+ Pro Community.

<a href="">How to Change Your Location for Local Search Results - The Always Up-To-Date Guide - Go Fish Digital</a>

Quite a bit more complicated than some of the others, but when you are in the situation where you really need to see exactly what someone in that GEO is seeing, this one is likely the most accurate.

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