Google Location: When You Want to Be Nowhere in Particular
Recently Google announced that it was making the location setting more prominent on its Web page. If you look on the left side of a search results page, you’ll see that Google is showing you where you are and giving you the option to change that setting. Google, as you probably remember, is now customizing its search results based on your geographic location.
Here’s the thing, though: you can’t say that you’re nowhere.
In other words, you can’t say that you want just the generic United States results (when you’re in the US). You have to specify that you’re somewhere in particular. My attempts to say I was on the Moon, at Squaresville, or in a pineapple under the sea were to no avail.
Which was annoying to me since many Google searches that I do have nothing to do with location. And being burdened with a location, I wonder what I’m missing, or how badly my search results are being skewed in a way I don’t want.
I did find a way to get around this, however. Metasearch engine Zuula, about which I wrote a couple of weeks ago, offers a Google search. A Zuula spokesman tells me that the results from its Google search are geared to come from “the United States.” He went on to say, “So, regardless where a user is — in the U.S. or elsewhere — the results they see are generic results relevant for all the U.S.”
He further noted: “The answer to your question would be somewhat if we were talking about the other major web search providers, Yahoo and Bing. There, the results are customized according to the country where the user is located. A Zuula user in France, for example, will see Yahoo and Bing results very close to what they would see at the Yahoo and Bing French websites. However, this would not be the case for the Google web search tab at Zuula, which still would return generic ‘U.S.’ results.”
I apologize to my international readers for the US-centricity of this article, but US readers, there is an option for searching Google which doesn’t involve slanting your search to a specific area.
Update: Chris schools me — see the comment below. The magic location to specify no location is “US.” I knew you guys were brilliant. Thanks Chris!