Google Launches Codeword "Venice" Update

Lookout internet marketing companies, last month Google released details on 40 algorithm changes for its search engine, including one that was titled “Codename: Venice”. Two changes caught our eye and directly affect the way search is becoming more localized. Here are the two snippets from Google’s announcement:

Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.

“Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.”

It seems that searching for broad keywords will return localized results based on where Google thinks you are located. I conducted a brief experiment by first signing out of my gmail account, deleting cookies, enabling pws=0, enabling incognito mode, and setting my location to United States to make for an unpersonalized query. I then searched for the keyword “Software Company”. The results are as follows:

The findings were definitely surprising. When I changed the location set from United States to San Diego, the results were populated with way more localized results. It seems that the top four results are the same for both universal and local settings but beginning from the fifth listing, the results became more localized. From the looks of things, the 3-4 top dogs will retain their positions but the rest of the results will favor local over non-local. This makes it both a challenge as well as an opportunity for search optimization agencies.

From an SEO perspective, it seems that having your location in title tags or having a specific localized landing page will have enormous weight on localized results. One thing is for sure, localized search will be a big factor in 2012. What do you think about this change? Are your search results more or less relevant after the update?

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