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

by Posted @ Dec 07 2015

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Last updated on 8/16/2018 – This article has been updated to reflect the most recent version of Google Chrome.  Follow the steps below to change your location in Google. 

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.

Google-Location-Missing

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”
    Google-Location-Inspect-Element
  • This will open the Chrome Developer Tools that we’ll utilize to help set different geographic locations.   Next,  select the Sensors TabNote: If the sensors tab is not visible, you need to enable it. To do so, click the icon with 3 dots aligned vertically and then More Tools and Sensors:
  • Click the Geolocation Dropdown and set Custom

  • 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.
    Google-Locations-Lat-Long
  • Return to the tab with Google search results and scroll down to the Geolocation section we enable previously.  Enter in the latitude and longitude you identified from Google Maps.  Be sure the ‘Emulate geolocation coordinates’ option is selected.
    Google-Locations-Emulation-Lat-Long
  • 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.
    Google-Location-Update-Location

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.

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