KevinWag

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Hello,

Spoofing to a local location used to be easier from what I remember. What is the most accurate way to see what results are for say, a handyman in Douglasville, Georgia?

I've tried the geolocation emulator in Chrome and it doesn't always seem to work.

Thanks!
 
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It's been a while since I've been able to get the chrome location emulation to work, I figured it stopped working after an update somewhere along the line and moved on, so you're not the only one that had trouble with that. I always use Bright Local, as Scott recommended. It's a little more cumbersome than a native browser solution, but it works. If you have a client in the area, it's worth it using Brightlocal for rank tracking as a paid service as well. You can check with their free tool as needed, but if you're a client, you can set it to do a daily rank check with screenshots. Helps a ton to come back after a shakeup, and see exactly what shifted around on a day-by-day basis.

It does need to be pointed out too, pay attention to where Google's centering the map. A search from 'Douglasville, Georgia' is going actually be a search from a particular, specific location inside the city, and will give different results than a search from somewhere a quarter mile away. If the client is most interested in capturing leads from a certain section of the city (based on proximity or demographics or whatever) you might want to be more specific in where you tell Google to do a search from. Since last November, searcher's location has had a huge impact on rankings, even changes of a few blocks can make a difference.
 

KevinWag

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Hey James,

Thanks for the thorough reply!

Agreed, it's a few extra clicks but appears to be pretty accurate when I do some checks locally.

Do you mean more specific like using zip instead of the city to get most accurate results? Is there a way to know where the centroid is when I use a certain city/zip?
 

Tony Wang

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What James said is true, but that also means BL tool is searching from one specific location. The reality is, as James noted, there are numerous SERPs nowadays, highly personable and geo specific to the user. Really, all we can do is get a rough idea of what things look like to (hopefully) many users.

As for Chrome emulation, I have found that it still works, although it seems a bit fussy at first. It usually takes a few browser refreshes before the geo-coordinates take hold, for some reason. It sometimes helps to click "use precise location" at the bottom of the page. I think most people give up when it doesn't work right away, which is why I also stopped using for awhile. But when you get this working, I think it's the most accurate reflection of an actual location based search.

Philip Barnhart gave an alternative method recently, it works but I found it even more tedious than trying to get Chrome emulation to work. https://www.localnology.com/google-local-seo/checking-local-search-ranking-virtual/
 
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Hm, thanks for the tip Tony. Maybe I'll see if I can't get it working again, it's possible I just gave up too early.

Kevin - happy to help. Tony mostly answered your question, but to make it extra clear: there is no such as the centroid anymore, there hasn't been for quite a while. As Linda put it, 'the searcher is the new centroid'. Asking what the results are in a given city is a question that doesn't make any sense any more. Even thinking in terms of zip codes won't get you there, the only real question you can ask is 'what are the results at this exact GPS coordinate'?

Dan from Local SEO Guide posted a related article yesterday that adds another fly in the ointment. Apparently any tool that spoofs the location using the UULE variable in the search URL (which bright local does) is going to be throwing off the results. He said he's going to post a followup in a few weeks, I'll be looking forward to seeing what his suggestions are, though it sounds like they might not apply to someone with no interest in getting their hands dirty with the API. Looks like I've got another thing to research this month. His suggestion (which makes sense to me) is to track a location from 5 or 6 spots in the city, and then average the results somehow.

My suggestion for now, is to use BL (or some other tool) and look at ranking movement as a trend indicator, and not as a solid, meaningful number in and of itself. If BL tells you you're C in the map for a keyword, that doesn't necessarily mean a ton. If it says you're rising though, and your analytics numbers and incoming new client inquiries are all going up, then that paints a pretty clear picture. Without tracking multiple spots in the city, I don't know how much more you could do.
 

DanLeibson

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I'll be looking forward to seeing what his suggestions are, though it sounds like they might not apply to someone with no interest in getting their hands dirty with the API. Looks like I've got another thing to research this month. His suggestion (which makes sense to me) is to track a location from 5 or 6 spots in the city, and then average the results somehow.

My suggestion for now, is to use BL (or some other tool) and look at ranking movement as a trend indicator, and not as a solid, meaningful number in and of itself. If BL tells you you're C in the map for a keyword, that doesn't necessarily mean a ton. If it says you're rising though, and your analytics numbers and incoming new client inquiries are all going up, then that paints a pretty clear picture. Without tracking multiple spots in the city, I don't know how much more you could do.

There are a couple that you don't need an API for, I will be using one of those for the post to show everyone ;)
 

JoshuaMackens

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With location playing a much bigger factor now, James is right. The best you can do is use rankings as an indication you're headed in the right direction. Don't use it as a KPI. Traffic, leads, sales, those are still the main KPI's.
 
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