How Local Search Results Work

local search

Are you curious how local search results work?

There are over 3.5 billion online searches conducted every day. Whether people are looking for general information about a company or person, researching a topic, or finding products or services, it’s Google’s job to figure out exactly what they are looking for as quickly as possible. How Google determines what someone is searching for and what results to display is part of the magic of how searches work. Google’s objective is to provide search results that are as personal as possible, so that they keep loyal searchers using and trusting Google for all of their searches.

When it comes to finding a local business, things can be a bit trickier.

First, Google places businesses into categories. Because these categories are limited, some people find it difficult to determine which category is best for their business. Not to be confused with keywords, there are approximately 2,500 categories to choose from, compared to unlimited keyword phrase combinations. For example, gotcha! is a digital agency. Because there isn’t a specific category for this, we have no choice but to list our business under the category of “Advertising Agency”, which is different from what we do.

Next, if a searcher is looking for a digital agency, they might simply type “digital agency” into the search bar. However, they might also type in any combination of words that mean the same thing to them, like “web advertising”, “online marketing company”, “best content marketing company”, etc… Google has to be able to look at these searches and determine several things. First, what is the searcher looking for? Do they want information on this topic or are they looking for a business offering this type of product? Next, if the search doesn’t describe the category outright, they must determine what category under which the search keyword(s) fall. Finally, they show the businesses that best provide what the searcher is looking for based on proximity to the searcher.

This is not an easy task, but it is a challenge that Google handles better than anyone else does. How do they do it?

For starters, they have collected data from trillions of searches. When Google analyzes this data, it gives them insight into what these searchers were looking for. For example, if someone typed a search phrase into the search bar and conducted a search, did they click on a resulting web link, or did they immediately adjust their search phrase to produce different results? This adjustment and how often it was made before a desired result appeared told Google much about what this person was looking for from the first phrase to the final one that produced the desired results. In addition, if the searcher went to a website but then immediately left the website and went back to do another search, then Google can infer that the result was not what the searcher was looking for. If a website, closer to what the searcher was looking for would have provided a better search experience Google could make adjustments that help streamline the process.

Over time, this is exactly what has happened, and now Google is quite good at determining what someone is looking for and what results to show to make the searcher happy.

All of this information helps make up the secret Google algorithm, which goes to work for a searcher when they use Google.