Managing Location With Google Search

Managing Location With Google Search
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Managing location while searching on Google

Whenever you search for something like the nearest service station or restaurants near you on Google, you must have seen Google asking for your location. It helps Google deliver more helpful results specific to your location. Suppose you do not enable location services on your mobile device, in that case Google will have to depend on other sources to provide results. However, in that case you may not get appropriate results. Suppose, you are on a journey and 400 kms away from where you were yesterday. In that case, Google will not be able to provide you with helpful and relevant results without knowing your current location and might end up providing search results based on your previous location.

Therefore it is important for you to understand the relevance of your current location for Google and manage accordingly. Google receives the data to determine your precise location from several sources. However, when you turn on your current location, it is easier for Google to provide results according to your exact location. You are searching for petrol pumps near you and if Google knows your exact current location, it might be able to help you with better results. This is especially important when you are searching for local services. Local searches cannot be effective without your exact location.

If you are using a mobile device for local searches. You should turn on your location settings to get relevant and precise results. You can set location permissions for individual urls like or individual apps like Google maps. Well, if you are using Google maps, you know that without using your current location, it cannot provide you the right service if you are trying to find a route. So, current location is compulsory when you are using local searches in Google or Google maps to determine the correct route.

How Google determines our location

Google determines our current location from various settings and sources. For example, if you have set your home and office locations, it will help Google estimate your current location based on time. However, there are other sources too that allow Google to estimate your exact location and Google uses a combination of these sources for estimating your current location.

** Using Device Location** Google mostly uses the device’s location to provide search results. Since devices such as mobile applications and laptops are able to provide their exact location, it helps Google provide services like Google maps effectively. Suppose, you are on a journey and need to find the shortest route. Google will provide you the best route through Google maps as well as other details related to the route if it is able to find the exact location of your device. Even if you are at home and using a smart home device, you can use the Google Home App to set your location and accordingly find local businesses and services like ATM or gas stations.

Whenever Google uses the location of your device to provide you search results, you will see the notice that the results are based on your device location included at the bottom of the search results. Sometimes, due to weak internet or other reasons, the browser may take long to recognize device location. Whenever this happens, Google uses the previous location to provide local search results. Your location remains cached in the browser for 6 hours. Google sets a cookie in the browser which is set to expire every six hours. So, sometimes you may find that the results Google provided are based on your previous location. You should check your internet signal or location settings to update it and get more relevant results.

Home and Work Addresses

You can set your home and work addresses in your Google account which helps Google find your exact location at a specific time. For example, during your office time, you are more likely to be at work on the weekdays. So, Google can provide results based on your office location during work hours. In the rest of the time, it might use your home location to provide search results since you are more likely to be at home outside the work hours.

If you are at none of these addresses, then precise search results depend on whether location services are turned on in your mobile device or not. However, if Google used your home or office location to provide you search results, you will find a notice at the bottom of search results saying that the results are based on your addresses (home or work).

IP Address

The IP address of a person’s internet connection also helps Google establish his current location. When you use the internet on your mobile device or laptop, your internet service provider assigns you an ip address. This IP address helps Google identify your general location. Since IP addresses are essential for establishing internet connection between the device and the website or app in use, the service you are using like Google search or Google map will get some idea of the area you are in.

IP addresses are geography based and so they can provide a clear idea of the area you are currently located in. When Google offers you results based on your IP address, you will again receive a notice at the bottom of the search results that these results are based on your IP address. Since the internet does not work without IP addresses, whenever you access a website or app, it is going to get some general idea regarding your location.

Previous Online Activity

Google also tries to improve user experience by collecting data related to your previous online activities which helps it provide better search results including the sites you visit more often as well as other Google apps and services like Google maps. However this is possible if you remain signed into Google and keep web activity turned on. If you do not use Google search or other services like maps too often, you might do without it. However, since most of us need them quite often, it helps to stay signed in since in that case the results are precisely tailored to our needs.

Sometimes you will see that Google automatically determines the area when you are searching. For example, you searched for gyms in a specific area previously and then later you searched for coffee shops and did not mention any particular area, Google will use your previous searches to determine the most relevant location and accordingly offer you search results. If you have been searching for services in an area in NeYork City, it is quite likely that Google may offer results based on your previous activity and related to that same location.

Google can also estimate your location during a time of day based on your previous activity. For example, if you have been searching from a precise location previously at a time of the day, this precise location will remain stored in your search activity and Google will accordingly tailor the search results.

Sometimes, you may have signed out of your Google account and then providing search results tailored to your needs depends on your previous search activity.

To view and control your web activity, you must go to If you want Google to not use your previous searches, you can browse privately in incognito mode or you can just turn off search customizations to not receive customized search results.

Whenever Google uses your past activity to estimate your current location, it will notify you at the bottom of the search results that these results are based on your previous search activities.

Location Controls and User Privacy

Google estimates the general search area where you are searching from when you search using Google. While it keeps your account safe by detecting unusual sign in activity like sign in from a new area, it also helps Google provide more customized results.

Google estimates the general areas based on location sources we have identified previously in this article. A general area is larger than a square mile and includes more than 1000 people which means it does not identify you individually and helps protect your privacy.

However, if you want more customized and relevant results, you must let Google have access to location services so it can use your exact location based on your device for providing the best results. Google can also use your home and work addresses to estimate your current location.

Turn on Location Access in Android

To turn on location access in Android devices, go to settings and then find locations. Click on locations and toggle the switch on to turn on location access. You can allow Apps and websites to have access to location services all the time or while they are in use. However, you will need to have location access turned on. For example, if you are using the Uber app, you can provide the app with location access all the time or only while you are using the app.

To check out the list of all the apps that have been granted location access go to settings -> locations and App location permissions. You can also allow Google to improve location accuracy in location settings.

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