So today I’ll start my research about the 57 signals Google uses to personalize search results. To verify that Google uses your Location to tailor search results was an easy score. After the experiment we can be 100% certain that your location is one of the 57 signals. Well I guess there was no surprise to this. Anyway personalizing search to your location is in my opinion a lot of help especially because it seems that google gives the user the freedom to pass by this filter and the filter also doesnt seem to be that strong:

First Experiment: verify Location as a signal

I am right now sitting in the city of Koblenz and I was typing in a search for weather (Wetter in German) Google returns me the weatherforcast for Koblenz. Afterwards I used a proxy tunnel to my webserver of www.rene-pickhardt.de which is located in the city of Stuttgart. After doing the exact same search on the same computer with the same browser Google returned the weather forcast of Stuttgart.

google search for weather. My location was Koblenz

Google search for weather when using a proxy tunnel to my Location Stuttgart

Since my blog is run on a shared hosting I logged in to my third webserver of www.metalcon.de which is a root server. Google coulden’t personalzie the search in this case because Google doesn’t know where the server is located. But Google asks me to enter the location where I am.

Second experiment: How to bypass the gatekeeper

Googleing the weather is kind of boaring so I did some other queries for bars and nightclubs (also in German = “bars und kneipen”) Again I got different results for Koblenz and Stuttgart. The interesting thing is that for both locations the results have been very general inlcuding also city guides from Berlin / Hamburg / Köln Munich and so on. Just the snippets from google maps have been tailored to my location.

Search for bars with a computer located in Koblenz

Search for bars with a computer located in Koblenz but using a proxy server located in Stuttgart

After adding Koblenz to the Query I obtained much better results for koblenz independent of using my proxy or not using the proxy (realize the results are the same but the location flag on the left side changed from Koblenz to Stuttgart.

Search for bars in koblenz with a computer located in Koblenz

Search for bars in koblenz with a computer located in Koblenz but using a proxy server in Stuttgart. the results remain the same as without proxy

We conclude that at the moment google pays much more attention to what you tell google you want to know than to the information google collects while browsing even though it includes information about your location while doing a keyword search it seems that it only does include this information if your search query is very general. Once you ask a more specific Query Google puts your interest as first priority.

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2 Comments on Google uses your Location to personalize search results

  1. [...] Our location – verfied -> more information [...]

  2. alien3 says:

    My guess is when searching, top priorities are:
    1. search engine TLD (de, com, co.jp, es, fr, etc.)
    2. language(i.e. localization)
    3. location

    As a test, you may want to try “bars und kneipen” and “restaurant” in French or any other language you happen to know, from any google.TLD.

    The word “restaurant” is pretty much utilized anywhere in the world and will always return different results.

    Nevertheless, your location is important to get you where the search engine _thinks_ you are, and automatically set the language (look for “hl=de” in the query string). For example, you made all your queries with “google.de”.

    While it’s true that your location is not *that* relevant when conducting a precise search such as “bars und kneipen koblenz”, it is however very important in that it works in a very localized way. It’s like going to the local library in your very town, and not elsewhere.

    One should always be aware of some of the intrincacies and other subtleties when searching the web.

    True, what you gather is what you ask for, and how.

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