How to see Google search results and rankings for different locations


Every time someone types a query into Google, the search engine uses a complex equation to discover exactly what the searcher is looking for.

Various factors are involved in this predictive algorithm, one of which is the searcher’s location. Google has been very clear about the emphasis it places local search.

And that’s great if you’re a neighborhood mom and parent serving a small geographic area.

But what happens if you have multiple locations? Or if you operate on a national or even international scale? Can you still rank as high as your local search engine competitors?

For answers to these questions and more, read on.

Why do search results vary by location?

A reason for Google to consider location its scale is pretty obvious if you think about it: in many cases, local means more relevant.

For example, if you’re craving a mocha latte, a Google search that directs you to a coffee shop on the other side of the country isn’t much help; even a result from across town isn’t as useful as one just around the corner.

Google’s location capabilities are very precise and use multiple sources to estimate where you are. Depending on what is available, me:

  • Your device’s location (via Wi-Fi location, mobile phone triangulation or GPS, which can pinpoint your location to approx 20 meters).
  • Your bookmarked places (ie the names that appear next to the bookmarks in Google Maps).
  • The home address associated with your Google Account.
  • Previous activity in Google products.
  • Your IP address.

Together, they allow Google to figure out where you are—and what’s in your local search radius. And that means you and someone who lives a block away can get different search results for the same exact query.

Now think about it 25% people click on the first search result and the vast majority never make it past the first page, and you can begin to see why local ranking is crucial.

To achieve this, your local search engine optimization needs to be in place, especially if your business depends on physical traffic.

But how can you tell if yours is working? You could jump in your car and drive all over town (or country) doing searches in different locations to check your ranking, but it would take forever.

Fortunately, Google lets you see how you rank without leaving your desk. Here’s how to do it:

Add a local parameter to the search

Google offers a convenient way to check local map pack in certain locations. Simply do a Google search, then add “&near=cityname” to the end of the URL in the search bar.

For example, let’s imagine you’re doing SEO for a coffee shop with branches all over the Pacific Northwest, but you live in Kansas City. Let’s call this imaginary business “trembling.”

Want to see how Jitters stacks up against the competition in Seattle, so head over to Google and type [coffee shops near me].

When the results page appears, go to the end of the long URL and add “&near=Seattle”.

Hit enter and voila: you’ve performed a local search from 2,800 miles away.

Screenshot from search [coffee shops near me]Google, July 2022

Change regional settings

If you’re looking for a higher-level view of search results for a specific location, you can manually change regional settings.

This gives you country-level search results, rather than results from your IP address or other sources.

Click to do this settings in the lower right corner of and select Search settings. This will take you to the search settings page (obviously).

Change regional settingsScreenshot from, July 2022

Scroll to the bottom and you will see a list of regional settings.

Select the region you want to use for searching and save your settings. You will now see search results from the selected country.

Continuing our coffee shop example, let’s say Jitters just opened a location in Lisbon. You will select “Portugal” as your region, which will allow you to check the ranking of the new Portuguese beanarna.

Note: If you do not add the locale parameter discussed earlier to your search URL, you will continue to see results based on your current location.

Manage your work and home locations in Google Maps

One of the great things about Google Local Search is its machine learning capacity.

It automatically recognizes the places you visit often, including your home and work. And by understanding your commuting habits, it can save you a lot of time and provide you with more relevant searches.

Of course it’s not perfect. Sometimes he doesn’t realize that you quit your job at the cracker factory months ago. But setting work and home location is easy.

Open Google Maps, click methen Your citiesand select Locations. Pick Work or home and enter the address. Click Saveand everything is ready.

You can now perform local searches from any location by adding the modifier [near home] or [near work] to your inquiry.

Delete location history in Google Account activity controls

This may seem a bit like Big Brother to some, but Google tracks your location even if you’re not actively using a particular search engine product.

It does this because it uses yours location history to improve accuracy.

For example, if he notices that you frequent a martial arts gym, he is more likely to respond to questions about boxing with boxing websites rather than cardboard box blogs.

This is useful in many ways, but can complicate the process of viewing search results from different locations.

In 2020, Google announced that it would deletion of user location history after 18 monthsbut if you can’t wait that long, deleting or turning off the service is simple.

Go on “History of locations” in your Google Account and you can turn it on or off.

If you want to use location history on one device but not another, you can change this on this page. You can manually delete all or part of your location history from your browser or Google Maps.

You should be aware that if you delete this data, you will lose some personalized data, such as recommendations based on places you’ve visited, traffic reports, and automatically created Google Photos albums.

Override your location with Google Chrome Developer Tools

If you’re more tech-savvy, you can also check search engine results by overriding your location using Chrome’s developer tools.

To do this, open DevTools and then open a command prompt. Choose Show sensors and press enter.

From the “Geolocations” list, select one of the preset cities or select “Custom location”. If you choose the latter, you can enter the longitude and latitude coordinates for precise positioning.

You can also select “Location Not Available” to see how your site performs when the user’s location is unknown.

Change the location settings on your device

Some mobile devices allow users to change their location in the Settings tab. Others require you to be a little smarter.

The easiest way to check search results from another location is to use a GPS modification application.

Several of these are available on the App Store and Google Play. Most work by having your GPS location changed by the network operator, allowing you to search from your chosen location.

Try it with the Google Ads Preview and Diagnosis Tool

Google’s Preview and diagnose ads tool is a great way to see how your paid ads are showing up in local searches, but did you know you can also use it to see Google searches from different locations?

Open the tool and select location in the drop-down menu. Now enter your desired location. You can view by country, city or zip code, so you can get a high-level overview or a detailed view depending on your needs.

You can also change the device type to see if you perform as well on mobile as on desktop.

View local search results with is a free online tool that allows you to check your search engine rankings from an exact location without any additional tools or data sources.

It is extremely easy to use. Enter keywords, select your region and language, and enter your title.

View local search results with Valentin.appScreenshot from Google search, July 2022

Your address input will then be geo-located and sent to Google (along with your other inputs). then opens a page with localized search engine results from Google in a new tab.

Use a VPN to change your location

Another way to remove location data from the search equation is to change the location setting on your device.

One of the most common and easiest ways to do this is with a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Long used by pirates (virtual, not malicious), VPNs mask your IP address by routing it through secure servers located elsewhere. (Please note: Search Engine Journal in no way condones the theft of intellectual property or any violation of the law, so please do not call us if you need bail).

VPNs have legitimate uses, of course, including protecting against hackers, protecting your data, and bypassing those pesky YouTube blockers that restrict certain videos in your country. Plus, they’re a great way to get search results from another location.

The downside to doing this is that most VPNs only have a few IP locations to choose from. So if you want to see exactly how your coffee shop ranks in Vancouver searches, you might be out of luck.

Automate with local rank checking tools

Tracking local search results pages for a business with two locations, it’s completely manageable on its own. What if our virtual coffee company is taken over by a company that wants to take Jitters global?

You’ll go crazy trying to manage local searches in each of the company’s 315 locations worldwide. No need to worry – platforms exist to solve this very problem.

Called rank checkers, they can automate local searches and generate reports so you can decide where to best apply your SEO efforts.

Some of these you may be familiar with include:

Location is everything

Google results are different for different people in different locations on different devices. And that means it’s incredibly difficult to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to search engine optimization.

With Google’s emphasis on local search, whether you’re managing a single location, doing SEO remotely, or running a website for a multi-location business, it’s critical to show up to people in your neighborhood.

Fortunately, you don’t have to actually be in that neighborhood to see what local searchers are getting on the search engine results pages. There are several ways you can see how you are doing ranking from different locations, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Regardless of which one you think is best for your needs, the ability to tailor your SEO to target customers in a specific area is something you can’t afford to ignore.

More resources:

Featured Image: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock


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