Google feeds users local results in Maps and Search

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 28, 2017
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Google, Search

Google announced a change yesterday that affects which version of the company's Maps and Search services users get.

The change affects mobile and desktop searches and Maps access, and returns local results to users regardless of top level domain they have accessed.

Google served country-specific content previously if a user from, say Canada, accessed Google's UK or Australian search or maps sites. While users sometimes had to click on the "give me results from" link to enforce this, the top level domain determined which results and services users got when they used Google services.

This process has been changed by Google. With it, Google users get local results in Maps and Search regardless of the domain they load in their browser of choice, or which Google application they open.

So, if you open from Germany, you do get German results when you run searches regardless of the choice you made. This is true even if you open the website using a browser's incognito mode, or using the option.

Google highlights the country service that you are using at the bottom of the page. The company has removed the option to switch to the country service associated with the domain name from the search results page, and moved the option to the settings instead.

Here is how that is done to switch Google Search to another region:

  1. Open the Google Search domain you want to use, e.g.
  2. Select Settings > Search Settings from the bottom of the page.
  3. Scroll down to the region settings section.
  4. Switch from "current region" to the region you want to get results from instead.
  5. Click on the save button.

The process is similar for Google Maps. The core difference is that you need to click on the menu icon when you are on the Google Maps website, and select Search Settings from it when it opens. The rest is identical.

A workaround exists that you may use to access specific country services manually. What you need to do is append &gl=[country code] to do so. Example parameters are &gl=us to set the region to United States, &gl=de to set the region to Germany, or &gl=jp to set it to Japan.

Simply change the country code to set a region.

You are probably wondering why Google made the change; according to Google, it is to "help ensure that you get the most relevant results based on your location", and because it is "consistent with how Google already manages" its services across other platforms such as YouTube or Blogger.

Google feeds users local results in Maps and Search
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Google feeds users local results in Maps and Search
Google announced a change yesterday that affects which version of the company's Maps and Search services users get.
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  1. Anonymous said on October 31, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    About captchas Google also changed default setting to no longer longer allow “localhost” access. Google prefer instead that you use JD2 safely that you go to the adware/malware pages to resolve the captcha.

    When you wash your teeth in the morning don’t forget to repeat “Google is my friend”, “Google is my friend”, “Google is my friend”, “Google is my friend”, “Google is my friend”…

  2. Tom Hawack said on October 29, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    The problem is less that Google now feeds users local results than the fact that Google knows all (or a lot, depending) about users. Applied to its Maps reminds everyone that the company is always in our back ready to point with a “it’s this way” : we know (we discover for those who had any doubt) that they know. OK

    Reader Anonymous wrote above “I don’t like when google or any other website is ‘thinking’ for me and also making decisions for me. it’s simply another crap from google.”. I don’t like it either but what frightens me is that I have the feeling (no stats) that many and more users forget their values of privacy and the power of striving for an aim once they are served with ready-to-eat results. An example is a VPN proxy Firefox add-on which is absolutely astonishing in terms of speed, easiness, used by over 260,00. What they either ignore or forget is the TOS and privacy conditions mentioned in the VPN’s homepages : at least they don’t hide the reality of what they collect which is amazing. Well, because it’s close to excellency the add-on is highly successful, whatever the privacy price. That’s the secret nowadays : little quality and enhanced privacy : people yell — high quality and no privacy : people applause. Nothing more than an educated rape performed by a talented lover, with many nice words, no brutality but … a rape nevertheless.

  3. Googsting said on October 29, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    @Klaus Vaak

    “Google is NOT the government.” What’s your point ?? Nobody suggested Google is Gov.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on October 30, 2017 at 7:38 am

      My reply was meant for Robert, who said that like Google the government also controls your life. He is right, but Google does not/should not have the same rights as the government as it is NOT the government, nor even a representative of the government.

  4. TelV said on October 29, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Contrary to what I mentioned before does work with a VPN. I just tested it again by using one of the other UK location option and now get English results even though I live in the Netherlands.

    @ Martin, I don’t see my previous post anywhere. Is there something I should be aware of when commenting?

  5. TelV said on October 29, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    That partly explains why when I use to search for English results it redirects my searches to……and this is where it goes pear-shaped: to Germany even though I live in the Netherlands and have a Dutch IP adress.

    The site provides the option to search for English results, but requires a permanent cookie to do so. Since “cookie” = “tracking”, I just switch to instead even though I detest the “Instant” results it displays which thankfully the above URL to Google disables.

    I’ve tried using a VPN to switch my location to the UK, but Google still displays German results unfortunately.

  6. Dave said on October 28, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    Making people more ignorant, one click at a time!

    You see this same “pattern” of censorship from national “news” (I use the term loosely) outlets. They only report what they want you to know.

    The thing most people overlook is that there is one person, or one small group of people (all offensively rich), deciding what to tell you based on what profits them most.

    Now that “social media” has become a (I regurgitate this) ‘news’ outlet for the masses, of course they will use this power to do the same.

    If you want to learn more about your country or state, you must turn to foreign news outlets with different agendas. :(

    1. Klaas Vaak said on October 29, 2017 at 6:49 am

      True, and the best alternative outlets are not-for-profit outlets. That goes for news, as well as for search engines like DuckDuckGo. Incidentally, an interesting search engine is Ecosia, which uses your searches to plant trees as a help to create a better environment.

  7. Anonymous said on October 28, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    I don’t like when google or any other website is ‘thinking’ for me and also making decisions for me. it’s simply another crap from google.

  8. Googsting said on October 28, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    You may use a VPN to get around it, personally I have not tried it since I avoid Google products whenever I can. By the way, Googles action is another proof of big corporations telling users what they can do or not. The incapacitation is moving on fast.

    1. Robert said on October 28, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      In all fairness your Government also controls your life in a similar way that suites their investments and power of authority.

      1. Klaas Vaak said on October 29, 2017 at 6:46 am

        Google is NOT the government.

      2. Googsting said on October 29, 2017 at 1:13 am

        You are absolutely right. I did not mention Gov since the article was about Google. Thanks for reminding everybody about it because one could imaging falsely what they are doing is nothing else than legalize the illegalty. :))

  9. MarkCB said on October 28, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Using the google bang !g from within DuckDuckGo returns US search results, which I find to be useful occasionally. Glad there is a workaround still from the google portal.

  10. Heimen Stoffels said on October 28, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    This was already the case for me. I’ve been using the English (US) version of Google Maps for a long time now and I always get local results, despite the fact that I’m from the Netherlands. So they had already enabled this for some users, I think.

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