SEO Whitepaper: How Distance and Intent Shape a Local Pack
In August 2017, a Think With Google piece stated that local searches without “near me” had grown by 150 percent and that searchers were beginning to drop other geo-modifiers — like zip codes and neighborhoods — from their local queries as well.
Since we can’t always rely on searchers to state when their intent is local, we should be looking at keywords where that intent is implied. But, before we start optimizing, we need to know whether Google is any good at interpreting implicit local intent and if it’s treated the same as explicit intent.
Consider these queries: [sushi near me] would indicate that close proximity is essential; [sushi in Vancouver] seems to cast a city-wide net; while [sushi] is largely ambiguous — are they hungry for general info or actual sushi? And what happens with [best sushi], where quality could take priority over proximity? Google decides what these queries mean, so it’s important for us to understand those decisions.
In this whitepaper, we put local packs under the microscope to determine:
- How Google interprets different kinds of local intent.
- How geo-location and geo-modification influence local packs and organic results.
- How distance, Google ratings, and organic rank shape a local pack.
- How Google handles competing needs.
Plus, we’ll make the case for tracking local and show you how to set up your own local tracking strategy.
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