Ever wonder how search engines might rank your local business if you’re searching for it near a competitor? The answer is not as simple as one might think. Learn more about local algorithms and how they analyze your content below from Microsoft and Google.
Microsoft’s patent focuses on detecting dominant locations from search queries and the search’s “location intent.” It attempts to understand a “dominant location” of the question based upon the likelihood of the answer.
Invented by Chuang Wang, Joshua Forman, Lee Wang, Xing Xie, Ying Li
Assigned to Microsoft
US Patent Application 20060271518
Published November 30, 2006
Filed: May 27, 2005
A system and method for location-specific searching. The invention correctly identifies explicit and implicit locations in a search query and provides an appropriate dominant location. Top search results are obtained and analyzed to determine which terms in the query often appear in combination, and the query is tokenized based on the analysis. An explicit location indicating a location intent is most likely treated as an individual token, and the explicit location is treated as the dominant location of the query. In the case of a false positive, wherein the explicit location in a query is not the location intent, the explicit location is likely to be present with other terms that provide context. A token will likely include these terms together. The explicit location will therefore not be used to generate location-specific results in the case of a false positive.Abstract
These dominant factors are:
Location intent – an indication in a query that the searcher is looking for something related to a geographic area
Types of Search Queries
There are at least two types of search queries that can show location intent – ones that express implicit locations and others that indicate explicit locations.
Explicit location – a geographical term is present in the query.
Implicit location – A search with an implicit location doesn’t contain a location name but is associated with a location intent.
Google has filed a patent that focuses on a combination of a query used and the person’s location searching. This patent appears to focus primarily upon organic web results rather than location results.
Invented by Michelangelo Diligenti, Wenxin Li, Fabio Lopiano, and Trystan G. Upstill
Assigned to Google
US Patent 8,200,694
Granted June 12, 2012
Filed: November 8, 2010
Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer program products, for identifying implicitly local queries. A query having one or more terms is received. The query is associated with a user locale. A degree of implicit local relevance for the query is determined. One or more search results for the query are received.
Each received search result has a respective score and a respective result locale. The score of a respective search result is modified using the degree of implicit local relevance for the query, the user locale, and the respective result locale of the respective search result.Abstract
How Search Engines might associate Web Page Locations
Google might associate websites with specific locations through:
- The content of the site
- An address and other contact information
- Business listings that include location information
- Metadata, Citations, and Schema
- Top-level domain being used or an IP address
- The user traffic to a site (Click Records)
Some websites might be determined to be associated with:
- Several locations
- All locations
- Or no location in particular.
Websites that are associated with all locales or none might be “globally relevant.”
How Search Engines might determine User Locations
Google searches can be associated with user locations, and they can be done so explicitly. Here are some user signals a search engine might look at when trying to determine an implicit location within a search:
Location of Search Engine – A search using Google Canada might indicate an intent to restrict a search to Canada
Implicit Local Relevance for All Terms in Query – If terms in a search have been used in the past and are relevant to a specific location
Language – Some searches might have significance in some languages but not others
Country – Brand names can signal transactional intent in some countries, whereas it means something else in other countries.
Aggregated User Behavior – If a significant amount of searchers use a particular term, they tend to select search results associated with their location
In Content terms – If the word frequently appears in content related to a particular location, this might be used to determine some implicit preference.
Types of Locations: Microsoft might classify
A research paper from Microsoft: Web Resource Geographic Location Classification and Detection (pdf) discuss three different types of locations for websites:
Provider Location – The geographic location of the website
Content-Location – The location included within the content
Serving Location – The geographic location of the audience that the website aims to reach.
The geographic location of the business behind the website is an integral part of rankings, and a geographical location is one of the main reasons people purchase products and services.
To improve your local search results it is vital your website optimize for visitors’ user intent and that search engines can understand and distinguish your location, how your location is tied to your content, and your intended audience. This is the basics of understanding search intent for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
You want to ensure Search engines understand the differences between provider location, content location, and serving area precisely for better SEO rankings.