Tips about a new Google search command have been circulating around the Reddit community r/Google today, where users have discovered that searching for “**” (without quotation marks) pulls up a list websites for physically nearby businesses.
This command has been confirmed to work on both mobile and desktop for searchers residing in the United States and Europe. I can personally confirm that the command also works in Canada.
When using the command myself, Google pulled up websites for all manner of local businesses. Everything from tourist attractions, to news agencies, to car dealerships, to restaurants, and more were included in the set of search I was presented with.
Of course, results will vary depending on where you live and what’s popular in your local area. In order to determine which location to surface results from, Google needs to be able to access location information from either GPS or your internet address. As one user put it, Google needs to be able to think you’re at least “somewhere”. The command does not work within proxies or on a virtual server.
It’s also worth noting that when using this command, suggestions within the “Searches related to…” section at the bottom of search results are populated with names of local businesses — rather than suggesting other search terms that begin with “**”.
While not a perfect substitute for using the smart location-based search features in Google Maps, this command could be useful for discovering local businesses you didn’t know about