How to Disable Google Local Search

I love local search. When Google showed their commitment to local in October of 2010 by launching Place Search I got very excited (but I also had to update a lot of slides for local search presentations). However, it wasn’t long before I discovered Google was sharing local results for everything I searched, and that began to bug me. You too?

Thanks to a tip from Dave Rohrer @daver (one of several tips I got at PubCon) I now have a solution on how to remove Google local search from results. It is simple to remove location from Google search and I’ve shared some screenshots so you can do it too.

search paint google los angelesDefault results when searching the keyword: paint

I did a search for paint and the screenshot above shows default results. My location was auto detected as Los Angeles and the first result was for a business selling paint in Los Angeles. There was also advertising for paint above the top Place Search (or local) results.

search paint google united statesChange Location to United States to Remove Location-based Search

The tip I got was simple, change the auto detected location to United States and set that as your default location. Wow, I can’t tell you how many searches I had conducted during the past several months, that all returned local results. I wanted back my old Google!

search google paint united statesLooks More like Old Google Search to Me

Yippee! The screenshot above shows what the same search for paint looks like when location is set to United States instead of whatever location Google had auto detected. Notice there’s no more red centroid as the top result? There’s also no advertising above the organic results. Finally, instead of Dunn-Edwards appearing as the top result, the top three organic results (Behr Paint, Benjamin Moore, and Sherwin-Williams) are in the same order as the match for brands related searches for paint.

Cool stuff eh? Thanks Dave!

Interior Las Vegas Airport Photos

I took a few Las Vegas airport interior photos after arriving on a Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles over the weekend. I didn’t stay in the terminal for a long, since I was eager to head out to the strip on a photo walk, but I wondered if the airport had anything to offer in the way of local search.

hudson news las vegas airportHudson News Las Vegas Airport

After exiting the plane (B gate), one of the first things that caught my eye (besides the double double bonus poker airport slot machines), was this roulette table inspired Hudson News store. I like that Hudson News designed the Southwest terminal storefront with a casino theme, and I can’t recall seeing similar things in places like Los Angeles, or other locations I’ve seen Hudson News in airports.

I took seeing the ball of the roulette wheel on 10 Black as a sign that maybe I should be playing that number over the weekend, turned out to be not such a good strategy. I believe there are several news stands operated by the same company inside McCarron LAS Airport, but this is the only one I saw, curious if they all have the same Vegas style theme.

Las Vegas Fruits & NutsLas Vegas Fruits & Nuts

What I thought was interesting about this fruits and nuts booth (which I discovered later) was that the store actually has a place page on Google maps. There was no photo on the place page so I thought I’d help out and share this one with them. For those curious, the photo was added to the place page the day after I submitted it.

It’s an unlikely place for people to find while doing searches online, especially since you have to be inside the Southwest terminal, in order to make a purchase at this store. I doubt many travelers departing from a flight, would be actively thinking about writing a review regarding a fruits and nuts stand inside the terminal. Possibly an example where local search isn’t necessarily going to help this business very much, especially when compared to the business they receive from people boarding and departing on flights.

I suppose if the product was really awful, they might gather some negative reviews, but that’s not likely to stop the hungry traveler who’s about to get on a several hour flight after a weekend in Las Vegas. There is the possibility that somebody in the airport is actually using their mobile phone and searching for fruits and nuts to purchase before getting on a flight. If that’s the case (I still find it highly unlikely) they might find this location, and they may read related reviews.

ReCharge ZoneLaptop and Mobile Phone ReCharge Zone

I love the airport recharging zones. I’ve actually taken quite a few photographs at different airports, as I’m continually seeking out the perfect airport recharge zone design. I love when airports have places like this to charge your laptops and phones, I love it even more when they have free WiFi, like McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas does.

I took the photo of the recharge zone while on the people mover heading to the ground transportation area. I was already on my way out of the airport so I didn’t head back to grab better shots. I did notice that there were five seats available but the 3 guys sitting there were occupying alternating seats. That’s typical.

For me, the perfect airport recharging zone would be situated nearby the gate I’m leaving out of, there would be free WiFi, and good quality coffee somewhere close by. Provide a setup like that I’m likely to get to the airport at least an hour before my flight, with little concern about sitting around waiting for takeoff. The charging station does have to be setup in a way that I can see my departure gate, or else I admittedly get a bit nervous about my flight departure, since I can easily get caught up in computer activity, and not pay attention to what else is going on around me.

Clark County Department of AviationClark County Department of Aviation

This last photo doesn’t count as a true interior photo, since I took it inside the airport parking garage, just outside the arrivals area. It was a yellow airport service vehicle, and while I didn’t photograph it, I have an interest in municipal stickers like these. Next, join me on a walk from the Las Vegas Airport to the Las Vegas Strip.

Los Angeles Google Maps Centroid

If you’ve ever done a city-based search for a local business anywhere in the United States, you may or may not have noticed that results are often located near the center of town, and sometimes they’re not. This can be massively confusing for business owners hoping to have their locations listed properly among searches conducted using Google Maps. It can be especially frustrating for businesses that are in major metro areas like New York City, Miami, Dallas, San Diego and others. Since I live and work in LA, I’m using Los Angeles as an example for viewing the map centroid.

Los Angeles Map CentroidLos Angeles Google Map Centroid

To find a centroid for the city you may be researching, go to Google or Google maps, and type in the name of the city. After you hit search, you should get a map that you can click on. This may not be the case for areas of lesser population, but for midsized and large metros, the results should be there. Look for the red place marker with the letter A (as an example there is a marker in the above image right next to the words “Los Angeles”). I added a little bubble where I live in Venice Beach, which when viewing at this level, does not get listed on the map.

Los Angeles City Hall centroidLos Angeles City Hall near centroid

Zooming the map in a notch we can see that the centroid for Los Angeles is located near City Hall. At this level, no other cities are listed, but we begin to see transportation information (Los Angeles Union Station), downtown Los Angeles areas of interest (Civic Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, El Pueblo De Los Angeles Historic Monument), and downtown LA business information (Edison, Philippe’s French Dip, Ahmanson Theatre), as well as street names and nearby freeway information.

Los Angeles Fire Department city centroidLos Angeles Fire Department and Los Angeles Police Department

Taking our magnifying glass and zooming in an additional notch we can now see outlines of building architecture. We also see business information, transportation information, and municipalities that were not appearing in the previous view. Not only do we see Los Angeles City Hall located near the centroid, we can also see that the Los Angeles Fire Department and Los Angeles Police Department appear very close to the centroid. In fact, it looks like the centroid for Los Angeles is at the address of the downtown LA Police Department.

Notice in the image above there’s more business information listed as well. Besides highlighting the LA Fire Department, I circled a well-known LA business, the Los Angeles Times. If you look carefully you may also see Pitfire Pizza and Curry House Take-Out Store. Not surprisingly, when I search Pizza Los Angeles or Los Angeles Pizza, the pit fire restaurant located right near the center of town appears as the top result in the map seven pack. However, the results are not similar when conducting a map related search for Curry Los Angeles or Los Angeles Curry. Go figure.

Los Angeles Insurance QuoteLos Angeles Health Insurance Quote and Computer Repair?

One more zoom in and now things really get interesting. Can you say map spam? I wasn’t expecting this, but it’s a reality, so we may as well cover it. We see that the centroid is near certainly listed at the police department downtown. We still see some transportation information (the bus icons), but additional businesses are also listed. I know the downtown Los Angeles area well, as I use to have a chiropractic office located on Spring Street. The pizza place and the curry takeout restaurant are real businesses located in the downtown area.

The Computer Repair Los Angeles business stood out being that it was in all-caps. I was beginning to think that this business didn’t really exist where it was being listed. Take a look for yourself using street view. Funny enough, street view shows the address for this business basically in the middle-of-the-road at the intersections of Main Street and 1st Street (you don’t get much more center of Los Angeles than that). It appears that there is no actual business located at Los Angeles Flowers, LA Health Insurance Quote, or even Los Angeles Garage Door. Knowing downtown Los Angeles is extremely popular for commercial flower purchasing, I thought there may actually be a flower business at that location, sadly all I could see via street view was a bus stop. One other listing, Los Angeles General Services Department, is for real, as it is a city government office.

I was not expecting to see what appears to be four different map spam business listings located so close to the city centroid, but I’m not surprised. After researching a little bit further, I saw several other clear examples of Google Map spam, which included a number of different business categories. The sad thing is these listings are likely affecting the map rankings (and incomes) of legitimate business owners in the city of Los Angeles, and unfortunately the majority of them are not even aware of it.

In summary: The centroid for Los Angeles appears nearest municipal buildings like the police department, fire department and Civic Center in downtown LA. Zooming in provides users with useful information regarding local related businesses, services, and places of interest. Zooming in further and staying near the city centroid, results in map spam.

Think Local SEO is easy? Think again. I recommend every business owner take the time to do some research on what businesses appear nearby their city centroid using Google maps. I also recommend reading Matt McGee’s post on Local SEO being harder than you may think.

Local Search and Mobile 2009 PubCon Presentation

Last week I presented at the 2009 PubCon Las Vegas conference. I was on the Local Search panel, which had more people in attendance than I’ve seen in a long time for a local search (maybe the time for local has come), and to top it off it was the first session of the day.

I posted a copy of the presentation to slideshare and have embedded it here for viewing…

Viewing the slideshow presentation doesn’t get as much information as having attended the event, but you may find something useful in the presentation nonetheless.

I talked about convergence of the desktop shopper and the cell phone user, the increased activity we are seeing in wireless, and how local search is appearing in the SERPS.

I asked a few questions on twitter about the use of mobile applications in finding places to eat locally and received some pretty interesting responses. A few of those were posted and appear in the slides.

When I talk about SEO for local search like it’s 1999, I don’t mean spamming guest books with links. Link building is obviously important, but for local search, the basics still rule. I did a presentation earlier in the year on granular data , which is also related to the area of local search.

Thanks to all those that attended the presentation live in Las Vegas, I know it can be tough to be awake and at the conference center at 10 o’clock in the morning, you guys rocked!

Going Granular Local Search Presentation

I’ve been meaning to post this presentation since I spoke at PubCon Austin earlier this year. I was on the local search panel and my topic was Going Granular with local search.

On the Chiropractic Blogs site I’ve talked about granular data and location information quite a bit. It amazes me how many people to this day still don’t invest the extra time into things like filling out fields completely or including detailed information related to the topic they are blogging on. Getting very detailed with the information you are delivering can provide great benefit, especially with long-tail search results.

If you want to view the slideshow presentation it’s 19 slides long. I covered more in the talk but at least the slides offer some basics on the topic.

One of the last slides simply says “True Story” and it refers to a case where I used granular data in a blog post that resulted in a client calling my chiropractic office. That client was seeking specifically what I covered in the post (down to the model number of equipment used) and since has referred a half dozen+ other clients.

Cheers!