Tag Archives: localised

Local search and hyperlinks

SE discover websites by one of two means. Firstly crawlable bots collect meaningful information from, for example, title tags, URL and hyperlink data, to help with recall and search precision. Secondly humans may submit URLs to a search engines’ database. Every website should optimise for search engines because they will be more popular. But where is search moving to and how does local search know where websites’ are?

Geographic information technology

Geographical search was created by the evolution of the web, for example moving from a one-way, web 1.0, medium to a two-way medium, web 2.0, meant that locational data was evolutionary created. Goodchild (2007) also identifies the 4 main geographic technologies:

Numbers coordinate with specific locations that are on the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) system. This is a grid-like system that pinpoints locations.
Inserting a standard piece of code to identify a location is known as geotagging.
Global Positioning System (GPS)
Allows direct locations to be taken from portable devices with approximately 10 metre accuracy.
Broadband / Internet connection
All geographic information needs to be uploaded to the web so an internet connection is required for geo-specific information.

Hyperlinks and localised search

Within 1 year 24% of hyperlinks do not change whereas 25% of hyperlinks are newly created each week in 2007. This does not only mean search engine algorthims need regular updates but the amount of data search engines need to take into account greatly increases as web technology evolves. A URL, for example, will have server and hosting information examined too. Hyperlink data goes hand-in-hand with geographic searching because URLs are also pinpointed to specific hosts; thus locations. Geographic, or location based, searching has not reached its full potential and these signals, if you like, need to be accurately developed to be precisely recalled.

Currently local links boost local rankings in terms of SEO. Hyperlink data is not only important to analyse but link building campaigns must focus on the broader picture: Aims and objectives of link building campaigns are the most effective way to launch focused campaigns.

Search engine indexes are now 3D allowing locational data to be stored. Such data, however, is difficult to precisely pinpoint because webmasters may choose servers in foreign counties due to, for example, cheaper price plans. Location based searching has not reached its full potential yet.

Yahoo Local process adverts using location data.

Flowchart of Yahoo Local’s advert decisions. Source: Bill Slawski.

You may find how large search engines deliver localised results interesting.

Google Venice update

In 2012 Google released an update called “Venice”. The Venice update means broad search queries rank to specific locations. Google does this by IP address. For most searchers this is effective, however, it will always be ineffective for those who use virtual private networks or proxy servers. The future of localised search means a range of data will be collected and analysed to allow search engines to judge where a website is best placed, for example, combining servers, hosts and IP address data alongside URL information will allow localised search to be more effective.

Do you use local search engines? Tweet Gerald and get involved.

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  1. Bar-Ilan, J. (1998) On the overlap, the precision and estimated recall of search engines: A case study of the query ERDOS. Scientometrics. 42(2) pp. 207–228.
  2. Goodchild, M.F. (2007) Citizens as sensors: The world of volunteered geography. Geojournal. 69(4) pp. 211-221
  3. Ntoulas, A. Cho, J. and Olston, C. (2004) What’s new on the web? The evolution of the web from a search engine perspective. ACM.
  4. Ramsey, M. (2012) Understand and rock the Google Venice update. [Online] [Accessed on 22nd October 2013]

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


  1. Brinkley, M. and Burke, M. (1995) Information retrieval from the Internet: an evaluation of the tools. Internet Research: Electronic Networking Applications and Policy. 5(3) pp. 3 — 10
  2. Grimes C, Tang D, Russell DDM. (2008) Query logs alone are not enough. In: Workshop on query log analysis
  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