If you use the Google.com domain, or you are in the US and are defaulted to it, you have probably noticed that the location settings feature in the “Search Tools” section of the search results is now gone. And if you are using an international version of Google, they have changed the options for drilling down locations when the searcher doesn’t reside in the area.
The location setting has been coming and going since at least the summer – we noticed it when Google made the script change to Search Tools in August. But it seemed to be toggled by Google as to whether it was turned on or off. But now, it appears it is gone permanently.
Here is how it looks now with it gone.
However, for those outside of the US, when you use a country-specific version of Google, such as Google.ca or Google.co.uk, they still do have another location settings in Search Tools on those sites. However, it is a simple toggle now to either show worldwide results or localized to the country.
Here is an example for Canada:
Previously with this option on the country versions of Google, you could specify a city, which was handy for seeing local results in a location the searcher didn’t happen to be in. So users could use their current location or enter in a city. While many used this for SEO purposes, it was also used by travelers to do local searchers in another location.
But for those excited about the potential to see Google.com results on a country-specific version of Google, you are out of luck. I compared several results with the “any country” option and the results were significantly different when compared to Google.com.
There is also a note in the footer of the search results, however this only lets you know which location Google has you in based on your internet address, and gives you an option to “Use precise location” instead. But there is no option to submit a location different from the one you are currently in.
Why did Google make the change? One possibility that I have noticed while using it, is that sometimes I would forget to switch it back. However, for most users, the presence of results for another location would usually be a sign, but perhaps it wasn’t enough for some.
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