Last year, Google had reduced the search result radius for many local “key phrase + location” searches. But now, the radius seems to have increased. Businesses that never used to show up as a pinned result in a local search phrase, because they were outside the small search radius, now show up again.
Blumenthal has researched this extensively and presents various screenshots that show very clearly how the search radius has increased since spring last year.
The earlier limited search radius had caused several businesses to drop in their ranking for City + keyword searches. These were all organically high ranking, had optimized Places listing complete with reviews, citations, photos and videos. If it weren’t for the algorithm tweak by Google, they would still rank high for their City + keyword search.
Now that the search radius algorithm has been brought back to how it used to be during happier days, businesses that are doing well for their core keyword should now rank well for “city + core keyword” searches as well.
Google’s location sensitivity concept is based on the fact that certain products and services are more location-sensitive than others. For example, a “location + pizza” search must logically return results that are within a smaller radius of the user’s location than the results for say, “cars + city,” because people searching for pizza are generally more interested in locations that are very close to where they are. The location sensitivity score is determined by a host of factors such as the topic of the search, user profile, user location and many other variables.
For a search phrase that is highly location-sensitive, the search radius will be smaller. If the results are not clustered together and the phrase is not location-sensitive, the radius will be bigger.
Google’s algorithm now apparently shows a larger radius, but there is no guarantee that it won’t decrease again. You may have to be on your toes to ensure that you otherwise ensure that your listing is spic and span and complies to all requirements. In spite of it all, if your listing still falls perhaps at a later date, there are ways to deal with it, as this post suggests.