Google Permanently Removes “Change Location” Search Feature

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Google removes location search feature

If you use the “Change Location” feature to see Google search results in different locations, you may have noticed the feature has been coming and going over the last few months. There have been several articles published in the last week about the disappearance of the feature.

Earlier this week, Google confirmed it has permanently removed the feature. 

In a recent statement, a Google spokesperson said the feature wasn’t being used enough, “So we’re focusing on other features.”

Here is what the search filters look like today:

google removes search feature

This tool was used, most often by digital marketers, to view Google search results as if you were in a different location. For example, if I wanted to see who ranked #1 for “pizza” in Chicago local results while located in Florida. Or, if I wanted to see what companies rank for “pest control” in Canada. There is now no way to tell Google you are in a different location, though you can block your location entirely.

Even using a different country’s domain extension didn’t make a difference. These are the results I received using incognito and going to www.google.ca (I am based in Jacksonville, Florida):

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Why Did Google Make This Change?

It could have to do with the “Right to Be Forgotten” laws that are passing in Europe. These laws are essentially useless if all users have to do is change their location to the US and search. Removing this feature would prevent users from outside the US from accessing www.google.com.

The feature was likely mostly used by search marketers, since it had few applications for the average user. It will be interesting to see what other features Google is focusing on.

 

Featured Image: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

Screenshots taken by author on 12/2/2015

Danielle Antosz

Danielle Antosz

Features Editor at Search Engine Journal
Danielle is the Features Editor for Search Engine Journal and the producer of SEJ Marketing Nerds podcast. She lives in Chicago, where she spends her days writing, editing, planning her next trip, and proselytizing the importance of the Oxford comma.
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  • http://on.fb.me/rosmarin-seo Myron Rosmarin

    Well that sucks. Anyone know of a workaround?

    • Mark Scheets

      You can use adwords to see whatever local result you are looking for. This will essentially give you a screenshot of the 1st page.

      Tools > Ad Preview and Diagnosis > enter search term/change location

    • Mark Scheets

      You can use Adwords to view the first page of results using Tools > Ad Preview and Diagnosis > Enter search terms / change the location.

    • http://www.wiredseo.com Clint

      Hey Myron,

      There are a couple, but the best workaround is to alter how Google has done the Ad preview URL structure.

      There’s a simple solution, but I would take note of the details I wrote about here, just in case – http://www.wiredseo.com/google-search-by-location-removed-how-to-filter-geo-location/

  • http://www.cpasitesolutions.com Norm

    “Removing this feature would prevent users from outside the US from accessing http://www.google.com.”

    I am not so sure though. Wouldn’t those folks still be able to use the preview tool to see what search results are being listed?

    While you are not able to change location, the current location is now listed at the bottom of the search results page, and the link to use your specific location is still available.

  • Allan

    This sucks.

    We have a static IP, and the location is wrong! Google is showing our ‘precise location’ of where IP is hosted not where our business is 🙁

    Now all our search results are skewed to another city. Is anyone else having this issue?

  • http://on.fb.me/rosmarin-seo Myron Rosmarin

    I did a bit more digging into the location settings. Here’s the bottom line: if you want to see search results for a different location, Google is advising you to add the location in your query. For example, if you search for [pizza] you will see results based on where google thinks you are. If you really wanted to see results for a different location such as Mountain View, CA, the search for [pizza mountain view ca]
    Source: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/179386?p=ws_m_learnmore_location&hl=en&rd=1