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You may have noticed that when you perform a Google search, Google knows exactly where you are. You can search “coffee” and the search results page (SERP) will provide results for coffee shops in your area. If you log into a laptop while you’re traveling out of the country and you start seeing ads in the local language.

But how does Google know where you are? And how does that affect your own SEO strategy?

How Does Google Know Users’ Locations?

Google uses two primary methods for tracking users’ locations, depending on the type of device they’re using. For mobile devices, most people have location services active. Google is able to use the location services to determine where users are and provide them with the most accurate search results for their location. On a computer, Google uses the IP address to determine the user’s location.


Why Does Google Use Location for Searches?

Google’s goal since it was founded has been to provide the best user experience and most relevant search results to Internet users. If someone searches for “coffee” and location aren’t used, then the results won’t be as relevant to the user. Google uses the location to help interpret a user’s intent behind the search and to provide search results that will best meet users’ needs. A user searching for “weather” typically is searching because they want to know what the weather is in their own location.



Geotargeting is another term for location-based SEO. It’s through geotargeting that companies can reach their ideal audiences more easily. If you have a physical location for your business, especially if it relies on bringing customers in the door, it’s in your best interest to focus your SEO strategy on geotargeting.

The Importance of Location in SEO

It’s extremely difficult to rank at the top of the SERP. Only one result can occupy the top spot. The more general your targeted keywords are, the more difficult it will be. There’s a lot of competition for “coffee.”

However, if you focus on your business’ location, which is also the location of your customers, then you’re only in competition against other local businesses in the same industry. You won’t be trying to compete against companies on the other side of the country.

If your business is online only and there is no physical location, you can still benefit from geotargeting. If you can only ship products domestically, for example, then you would want to focus within the United States. Certain products or services may be more popular in some locations than others. If you know that most of your customers are in New York, for example, you could focus on that particular location.

Geotargeting Your Advertising

If you have a specific location that you want to target, it isn’t just SEO and location-specific keywords that you can use to focus on customers there. You can also use geotargeting in your ads. You can choose to have your ads seen only by people in that specific location, excluding others that aren’t as relevant.


You don’t want to waste a click on someone who is less likely to be converted to a customer because they’re not in your area. Targeted location ads allow you to focus on the highest quality leads and those users who are most likely to become your customers. If you are targeting multiple locations, you can set your ads to show different offers or products, or even be displayed in a different language, depending on the location.