How to Change Your Location for Local Search Results – The Always Up-To-Date Guide

Posted @ Dec 07 2015 by

Over the years, Google has improved it’s algorithm to include search results that take into account the geographic location of the user performing a search query.   This powerful aspect of the search engine ensures that when someone in Miami, Florida searches for a “Pizza Restaurant”, the results Google returns show options for pizza restaurants in Miami and not some other random location.

Like most digital marketers, we work with business and organizations that have locations in many different geographic locations and have to regularly report and review search results and Google autocomplete suggestions for search phrases that matter to our clients.  Historically, Google allowed users to set their location for search results in an option under ‘Search Tools’ on the search results page.    We noticed over the past few months that Google was periodically removing this option for users and discovered on Monday that they have removed it completely.


Without the ability to quickly set a location for Google search results, it becomes extremely difficult to report on search results and autocomplete values in geographic locations across the country.   Part of our efforts to find a solution to this problem directed us towards a Moz article that outlined a way to set your geographic location with a URL variable.  While we found this approach to work, it was cumbersome and didn’t solve the problem of viewing Google Autocomplete suggestions in different geographic locations.  So we set off to find another way.

After additional research we discovered that the power to set our geographic location and to view both local search results and autocomplete suggestions was available in Google Chrome.   To set your geographic location, follow these steps in Google Chrome:

  • While viewing a Google Search result, right click on the page and select “Inspect Element”
  • This will open the Chrome Developer Tools that we’ll utilize to help set different geographic locations.   Next,  select the Emulation Tab
    Google-Location-Chrome-EmulationNote: If the emulation tab is not visible, you need to turn on console in developer tools. To do so, click the icon with 3 dots aligned vertically and then Show Console:Google -  Location - Show Console
  • Click the enable emulation button
  • The next step requires that you open a new tab and load Google Maps.  We need to get the latitude and longitude for the location you’d like to search from.  In Google Maps search for the city and state of the location you’d like to get local search results.   Once you perform the search in Google Maps, look again at the URL and you’ll see the latitude and longitude for your desired location.
  • Return to the tab with Google search results and scroll down to the emulation section we enable previously.  Enter in the latitude and longitude you identified from Google Maps.  Be sure the ‘Emulate geolocation coordinates’ option is selected.
  • Next, refresh the Google Search result page.
  • After the page has reloaded, scroll to the bottom and click Update Location (Note: It may say ‘Use Precise Location’).  This should then set your geographic location to where you’d like to see local search results in Google.   You can also enter in search queries and see Google Autocomplete suggestions based on these steps.

We have tested this multiple times and with a number of different search queries and it seems to work 100% of the time.  It does take a few more steps to view search results in different geographic locations than what was offered by the previous interface that Google provided but it is the best option we’ve discovered to have local search results and autocomplete suggestions for different locations across the country.


  1. Alex Dealy

    December 07th, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Great find! You’d think that somebody would have made this easier if this works 100% of the time, no?

    Potentially a Chrome extension or something similar. Do you know of one?


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  3. Amit Roy

    December 08th, 2015 at 12:44 am

    This is wonderful. Maybe developers should come up with some tool as extensions for major browsers to make this easy for everybody. Thanks a lot!


  4. Joy Hawkins

    December 08th, 2015 at 9:15 am

    This is an awesome trick – thank you so much for sharing.


  5. Cody Baird

    December 08th, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Nice find and work around!!! Thanks for sharing. Let’s hope that Google doesn’t tear down this work around. It seems like Google removing location settings recently was intentional.


  6. LTParis

    December 08th, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    It’s sad that Google is relying more and more on Local results but then takes the one single tool that really helps website owners/developers to check their results locally. Why Google why.


  7. Neeraj pandey

    December 08th, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Very useful article


  8. James Wilson

    December 08th, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Nice tip, I wonder how long it will be before Google change this… Why did they even remove it, to make an seo’s job harder?


  9. Mark Sceats

    December 09th, 2015 at 5:40 am

    Hi Dan. This is a clever find by your team and good to hear it works within the States. I hoped it would provide the work around we needed to mimic different international searches from New Zealand. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work – setting the emulation to say, London UK or New York long/lat still results in New Zealand results being shown – even when going incognito.

    Has anyone had success using this for international searches?



  10. anton shulke

    December 09th, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    For some reason last step is not available for me: no option “Update Location”
    just this


    • Bill Slawski

      December 10th, 2015 at 6:14 pm

      Hi Anton,

      I was getting something similar. It turned out that a Chrome Extension was keeping me from having that update step available. I had to change settings on the Chrome Extension to stop it from blocking a change for me.

    • Peter Charles

      January 20th, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      I turned off all of my extensions and it is still not showing the Emulate Geolocation option. What am I doing wrong???

    • Bill Slawski

      January 20th, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Hi Peter,

      This page has instructions on how to run the emulation:

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  12. Mark Tillison

    December 10th, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Good work Dan!

    I could’ve used that about 8hrs ago for some research in to local listing results :/

    It’ll be quicker next time. Seriously though, no Chrome extension for this already?


  13. Anita Anderson

    December 15th, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    THANK YOU, thank you, thank you. Greatly appreciative for this. I was feeling quite lost as an SEO needing to verify geo targeted results.


  14. Chris Ratchford

    February 24th, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Is this trick still working? I’m having difficulty changing the location.

    I’m using Chrome v 48 on a Mac.


    • Dan Hinckley

      February 24th, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      Yes – I just tested it again and it’s still working.

    • Chris Ratchford

      February 24th, 2016 at 4:14 pm

      Hi Dan… I got it working now. Go figure.


  15. Ben

    March 14th, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Boy, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing wrong… But it’s something. The link on this comment and here is to a screenshot of what I see. That said, I keep clicking to change location and Google ain’t buying it.


    • Dan Hinckley

      March 15th, 2016 at 8:02 am

      Hey Ben – It appears that the “Update Location” Button isn’t firing anything on Google’s server right now. Clicking the update location is returning a 400 error code in Chrome’s Console. Seems like Google’s services are having an issue.

      We’ll investigate and update as needed.

  16. David Carley

    March 15th, 2016 at 6:39 am

    Ben – I’ve had the same trouble too in getting Google to change the search location, but only since Monday of this week [14th March], on Friday I posted a comment that it worked – but since then no luck at all.


  17. Robert Ramirez

    March 15th, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    It looks like Google has disabled this? Or changed the SERP in a way that broke Chrome’s ability to emulate location. Either way – this isn’t working right now. We’ll see if this is temporary or permanent.


  18. Andy Kuiper

    March 18th, 2016 at 10:14 am

    I never knew this existed – thanks Dan 🙂


  19. Bob Strassel Jr.

    March 23rd, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Hey Ben, Dan, and David – I can’t get the Chrome Developer Tools location emulation to work anymore either. Getting the 400 Error. Hopefully a temporary thing and not a sign of things to come? Tried since this morning.


  20. Ben

    May 17th, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    Its amazing, Thanks Dan.


  21. Sue

    June 05th, 2016 at 6:17 am

    Thanks Dan, helped a lot. For those of you that couldn’t see the emulate option, when you navigate to the console, press ESC and you will see the console appear at the bottom, click it open and go to sensor where you can select to “emulate google coordinates”.



  22. vineeth m

    June 23rd, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    This one works. Thanks Dan Hinckley. Hope if there is an extension for firefox and chrome.


  23. Eric Martin

    June 28th, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I do this in the developer console, but then, when I click “Use precise location” these words pop up in the same place “Location unavailable – Learn more” Any thoughts? Thanks.


    • Dan Hinckley

      June 28th, 2016 at 10:46 am

      You may need to click the button again after a page refresh. Was working this morning for me.

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