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How to prevent localized Google search or see search results from other locations

Google Search always delivers customized search results depending on the geo-location of the user. The location is easy to guess from the IP address. This is why you are always directed to Google’s local search domain even if you begin from www.google.com. For instance, a user from India gets re-directed to www.google.co.in and a user from UK to www.google.co.uk.

google-locationRecently, Google started enforcing localized search with even more vigour. You will notice that Google now shows your location on the left side of the search page. You might have seen it. If you have, then you must have also discovered that it is impossible to turn it off, although you can change your location. This is disconcerting.

Google explains why you can’t turn off location-based service:

The customization of search results based on location is an important component of a consistent, high-quality search experience. Therefore, we haven't provided a way to turn off location customization, although we've made it easy for you to set your own location or to customize using a general location as broad as the country that matches your local domain.

The real reason is, of course, all business. Google is actually selling your location to local advertisers. The tailored results you see are not meant to suit you, but rather the local businesses who are filing Google’s coffers with money.

What’s wrong with localized search? You may ask. Sure, nothing wrong if you want to order a pizza, but all wrong when you want to know about pizza.

Sadly, you cannot prevent localized search. Even though the Internet is meant to be global there is no option to search globally. You can however change your location from a city to something broad such as a country. This will help you get better search results that aren’t restricted and constricted.

Change location to a country

To change the location from your city to the country, click on ‘change location’ in the sidebar and type the name of the country. Do note that you can only specify a location within the country of your current Google domain. For instance, it's not possible to set a U.S. address on www.google.co.in, the Google domain for India.

Change location to another country

To change your location to another country you have to change the Google domain. You can just type any Google domain in the browser’s address field and hit enter, and then carry search within that domain. For instance, you can type www.google.co.uk for UK results and www.google.es for results from Spain, and www.google.com/ncr for results from the US.

An easier method is via Google Global, an extension for Firefox and Chrome. Google Global allows you to quickly change your location by country, city and zip codes, and easily see what any localized Google search results look like. This extension is unobtrusive and the functions are only available when on a Google search results page so it will not clutter up your menu bar, right click menu or slow down your browser.

google-global

The addon is actually designed for Adwords advertisers and managers who run many campaigns across different geographic regions, but can be used by anybody who wish to mask their location.

Comments

  1. hey when I type in Pizza into google search, first link is wikipedia article so you are wrong that google local search is 100 percent geared towards commerce

    ReplyDelete
  2. Change your location to US (www.google.com/ncr) and then search pizza again. You will get local businesses first. Wikipedia link is down the page.

    I didn't say search is 100% commerce based, but based on your location and the kind of search you make, you can get entirely different results.

    For example, yesterday I was searching for "miss world 2010". The first few pages were full of links from news sites and forums I didn't want to see - sify.com, rediff.com, zeenews.com, because those are all Indian sites. The ones that I prefer like Telegraph and Yahoo News were on the 8th and 3rd page respectively.

    Once I changed the location to US, both Telegraph and Yahoo and other sites moved up in ranking, and other better sources became available.

    This is why I don't like localized search. I don't want to limit myself to one geographic region.

    Anyway, what prompted me write this post was a CNET article I read this morning (you might like to check that out). I was glad I was not the only one who felt that way.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well-written, practical article, thanks. You'll be pleased to know that your article comes out #1 on google.it for the query "stop google from localizing results"

    ReplyDelete

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