Google is known for its innovation among many things, but recently, it seems that they are taking one of their best features a step back, much to the surprise of many internet users.
Earlier this month, there had been quite a handful of reports that a certain search filter was removed silently from the noted search engine. Not one soul from Google spoke about why this came to be and how it was decided. Any website on the internet or at least anything as important as Google would have informed its many users about the change that will take place in a few days or weeks or so. Apparently Google failed to do so, leaving hundreds of millions of Google users unaware and curious.
The search engine filter we are talking about here is the one that lets you choose the location of the search results it will yield. In the previous versions of Google, a person is free to tweak the location filter in order to come up with results that were exclusively from any country as if you were actually there in that moment. You just have to click on “Search Tools”, look for the location filter and fill out which country you wish to base your search outcomes on.
This significant change angered so many internet users. Now, you can only acquire results according to your own specific location. This way, you can no longer broaden your search scope. Webmasters have their ways to go around this problem because of their knowledge in certain proxy tools, but still, Google introduced a better and faster way, and now they are taking it back.
What does this change mean for the users?
The change location search filter not only narrows the results down to the source location of your choice or broadens it for a much wider scope to yield more credible results. It also allows you to survey user internet activity in different locations. This is essential for professionals who are in charge of analytics because aside from gaining knowledge about something you want to know from your preferred location, you also get to see where the statistics are coming from.
Search engine optimization specialists also make use of this tool in order to perform studies and track results for the company/website they are optimizing for. It allows them to see how results are yield in areas besides their own and also how well their clients are doing in terms of SEO.
Apart from using this tool in search engine optimization purposes, people also use this for background checking especially for those who want to travel internationally. It's not enough that they see results tagged with geo-specific modifiers as they can be biased and self-promoting. Sure, you can type in the location of your choice on the search bar, but you will see that there is still a difference compared to when you change the location filter itself. The change location filter was indeed an essential tool because with it, you get accurate results and credible sources.
The main reason why features like this get dropped by a search engine platform is most probably because not a lot of people have been using it. Perhaps the only internet users who actually do are those who are doing this professionally, so Google finally decided to phase this feature out. It was completely removed by Google around a week before they finally broke the silence, informing Search Engine Land. According to several reports, the feature has been occasionally disappearing before it was finally removed but this did not alarm internet users because for all they know, it could just be a browser issue. It seems that the search engine has been doing its own beta testing without us knowing. A lot of experts have also inferred that there just might be a bug or something. It could also be an indication that Google is cooking up something better that will come in handier to search engine optimization specialists and professional tech experts. However, if this is the sole reason they opted to remove the change location filter on their list of special search engine features, then maybe they could also do the same for the “I'm Feeling Lucky” feature because we still don't know the good it brings to Google searches.
We're still not sure if this feature or the lack of it applies to all countries because a fellow from the United States claims that he has never heard nor used this feature before, and upon conducting internet activity research, it was revealed to him that such feature has never existed on the United States Google search platform. Instead of this, a similar option is available in the footer of Google's search results page. It gives the user the option to see results which are more area specific. He pointed this out to a fellow expert on a Google Help thread and and behold, the other guy said that this alternative US location preference was not available to him. Moreover, he also said that tweets complaining about this issue come from users in India, UK, Japan and others.
For now, the only thing webmasters and tech specialists can do is to endure the lack of this special feature and do their respective work the hard way. Hopefully, if the complaints garner enough traffic, Google will do something about it.
Fortunately RankTrackr still allows you to track any keyword for any geographical location (including city, region, zip level and country levels). This kind of flexibility is possible because of the design of the tool, which uses special architecture "exit-nodes", which are spread out in different locations around the globe and allow us to access Google datacenters effectively.