Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on October 20th, 2010

Google Moves ‘Physical Location Setting’ for More Search Control

Whenever possible, Google has always customized your search results based on your physical location. That way you can find a local phô restaurant or organic grocery store when you are jonesin’ for some beef & rice noodle soup or a gluten-free pizza mix.

This week, Google makes it even more convenient to control your own search destiny by changing where your location setting to appear in the left-hand panel of the results page.You still get the same, locally relevant search results you had before, you now have more control over your own search destiny.

Let’s say you lived in Mountain View, California and your office wanted to grab some pizza for an important meeting. Whatever would you do? Probably give Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria a buzz.

Notice the physical location of the searcher in the left-hand panel, the one that I circled with a big red.. circle? That’s the one. Google does their best to automatically detect your location, but they will be the first to admit that sometimes they are a little off. This change will make it easier for you to make a quick settings adjustment and get back to relevant search results in very little time. Oh, the convenience!

There also may be times that you want to go exploring, possibly planning ahead for a trip. Let’s say you are taking your honeymoon to Honolulu (Congratulations, by the way), and you want to find a pizza joint on the big island, a hotel resort, or what the weather is like for your arrival. You can set the location to a specific zip code or go broad with an entire country. I don’t know how much time you have on your hands, but there is a lot of exploring that can be done.

Obviously, the more absolute you specify your location, the more relevant your results will be. This control used to be in “View customizations” at the bottom of your results page, but with more locally relevant information being published online everyday, Google felt like it was the right time to make a move to more convenient presentation of the control setting.

This new interface is currently being rolled out in 40 different languages and does not change anything about how they use location information to improve search, so there is no change in privacy policies. For more information on this change, visit Google’s web search help center.

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