Tag Archives: local search

Local and mobile

Location-based searching adapts a search to your geographic location. This post analyses Yahoo Mobile Search and China’s booming mobile industry.

Local intent and concept

A large amount of searches have local intent even if they do not have locations included within a search query. “Chinese cuisine [city]”, for instance, suggests that the searcher wants Chinese food places in [city]. “Weather”, conversely, does not contain a city but it is unlikely a searcher wants weather information for North Korea. Search engines must calculate if all queries have local intent.

Yahoo! Search for mobile delivers geo-specific content by the following 3 steps:

  • Analyses the concept and the intent of a query;
  • Search execution plan is produced which optimises the concept and intent of a query. This query is mixed with various categories, including, for example, web, news, photos and user-generated content, such as, Yahoo Answers;
  • Search results are brought together from various categories and reorganised in a manner appropriate to a query. This reorganisation means a blended SERP is constructed.
Mobiles offer location-specific locations.

Photo of a mobile pinpointing a specific location. From Nahid Giga.

Why are mobile phones popular in China?

The Chinese government has supported the development of mobile phones by implementing the State Council Policy of 1999 entitled State Affairs Development File No. [1999]-5 (MII, 2005). Government legislation and the high number of people and manufacturers means that mobile phones are popular in China — the largest country of people with mobile phones.

Of China’s population of 1,349,585,838 persons there are 1,150,000,000 active subscription service users. This means 85.21% of the population have mobile phones. In terms of mobile devices China is the world’s biggest market.

Mobiles and location

Since mobile devices are packed with various technologies, for example GPS and WiFi, your location is more precise compared to, say, desktop computers. Exact locations are good for local searchers. Search engines, however, need to calculate if a searcher has or has not got local intent within every query. This area of technology is still developing. But marketers need to know about local searches in order to create local SEO campaigns, for instance.

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  1. Chang, C. Wang, F. and Fu, H. (2009) A strategic analysis of the mobile telephone industry in Mainland China. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management. 20(4) pp. 489–499
  2. Lu, Y. Peng, F. Wei, X. and Dumoulin, B. (2010) Personalize web search result with user’s location. SIGIR ’10 July 19–23. pp. 763 — 764
  3. Reuters. (2013) China’s mobile subscribers up 1.2 pct at 1.15 bln in March. [Online] [Accessed on 03rd October 2013]
  4. Yi, J. Maghoul, F. and Pedersen, J. (2008) Deciphering mobile search patterns: A study of Yahoo! Mobile search queries. World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2). pp. 257–266

Local and global search engines

Localised search engines allow users to search for local information. Such information can lead to a business’ success or failure because local information is useful. What is the difference between local and global search engines?

Localised search engines analysed

Smith (2003) evaluated New Zealand’s, NZ, local search engines and found that global search engines had a higher recall rate and more sophisticated search tools compared to three NZ local search engines. This means that most localised search facilities are restricted and less effective whereas global search engines offer an effective search experience.

Regardless of how effective or ineffective local search engines are it is clear each search engine, irrespective of location, crawls and indexes completely different webpages because only 1% of relevant pages were found by all ten search engines in Smith’s study (4 gloabl, 3 local and 3 meta search engines). Simply by the choice of search engines, local or global, your results will be different because each search engine has different bots to crawl the web.

Local search is a large industry.

Local search is a large industry.

Local search engines are likely to boost the ranking of a website from a domain name (i.e. .co.uk websites will be boosted for queries from a UK searcher). Global search engines, conversely, tend to blend results from multiple domain names but place more weight on what country you are viewing these results in. Global search engines are, therefore, not completely global because our results are tailored to a specific location.

IP addresses and location

If you go onto Google.com your IP address will determine what version you use, for example, Google.co.uk for IP addresses within the United Kingdom or Google.ca for an IP address in Canada. This means that Google will always personalise your results to a specific region. Global search engines are biased towards localised results since IP addresses track a geographic location to influence results based on that location.

IP addresses enable localised search but what other technologies enable global search engines to determine your location or precise city?

  • User profiles can store a specific city within them (along with area/s of interest, age and gender).
  • Your internet service provider (ISP) could cover specific regions thus your IP address can narrow your location down to a specific region within a country.
  • Depending upon the device you use, and the access you grant, gloabl search engines may be able to pinpoint your location by GPS, for example.
Local information can be time saving.

Local information can be time saving.

Local is specific

Search engines as an information retrieval application are effective if you can search for specific information. Localised information can help with specificity so localised search engines can help with some, but not all localised, queries.

Other studies, in upcoming posts on Gerald Murphy’s Search, suggest that local search engines need to improve their system. It is however interesting to note that localised search enables more resources to be reviewed by the searcher because they crawl different websites.

Should I use a local search engine?

Do you use a localised search engine? Feel free to comment below or tweet Gerald about your search experiences.

Posted by Gerald Murphy


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  3. Lopex-Pellicer, F. Florczyk, A.J. Bejar, R. Muro-Medrano, P.R. amd Zarazaga-Soria, F.J. (2011) Discovering geographic web services in search engines. Online Information Review. 35(6) pp. 909 — 927
  4. Smith, A.G. (2003) Think local, search global? Comparing search engines for searching geographically specific information. Online Information Review. 27(2) pp. 102 — 109