Google has been displaying local results for queries that contains a local component for some time now. A common query like san francisco restaurant displays 10 local search results along with a map. We now expect this type of local targeting because the query contains a geographic component which Google interprets as a geographic data.
Many search pundits have been calling recent changes in SERPs another Google dance. Evidence suggests that Google may be adding geographic information about brick and mortar stores and service companies to the algorithm along with reverse IP lookup to help boost site rank for regular results. Take the query engagement ring . I conducted this query in San Francisco and Los Angeles and got very different results.
Here is the same query in San Francisco.
Just to be sure I wasn’t seeing results from different data centers, I went ahead and queried multiple date centers using the SeoLog.com Datacenter Ranking Tool and discovered that the results didn’t match the LA results or the San Francisco results. In fact, some sites rank significantly better in both San Francisco and Los Angeles than they show on any of the data centers using the SEOLog tool.
We know Google been collecting service area information from webmasters from webmaster central. We know that they have extensive data from Google maps and third party vendors about where businesses are located. It makes sense that Google would add relevance to a website that represent a brick and mortar or service that is nearby. It appears they are starting to do so.
Updated 10-20-2009: In a Webmaster Video today, Matt Cutts acknowledged that Google “May” some day uselocation IP data to personalize search results .