I know… all Google is trying to do is help you get “better”, or at least more relevant, results from a search. And Google has assumed that you are your location — that where you are searching from really matters. Much of the time, that’s great. But for us professional searchers who search outside our own country, Google has just made a change that will significantly affect our search strategies.
Until now, if you wanted to focus your search on results from the UK and you were located in the US, you would go to the UK version of Google at google.co.uk. And yes, you’d always get different results than when you ran the identical search in google.com. However, according to a recent Google blog post, this trick will no longer work.
Now the choice of country service will no longer be indicated by domain. Instead, by default, you’ll be served the country service that corresponds to your location. So if you live in Australia, you’ll automatically receive the country service for Australia, but when you travel to New Zealand, your results will switch automatically to the country service for New Zealand. Upon return to Australia, you will seamlessly revert back to the Australian country service.
There’s a workaround; go to Settings and select Advanced Search. Scroll down to “Then narrow your results by…”, pull down the Region menu, and select the country you want to use to focus your search.
I tried this out with a search for Brexit, first searching in google.co.uk, then in google.co.uk with the Region set as United Kingdom. And, just curious to see if it would make a difference, I tried a third search in google.co.uk after setting my VPN to connect in the UK. And I got different search results from all three searches. Below are the top search results, highlighting the results that only showed up at the top of one of the three searches. Note that each search turned up results that weren’t in the top of the other two.
Bottom line: I’ll now be doing three searches when I’m using Google to find information from a specific country or region. Thanks, Google…