In the fast-paced world of digital marketing, staying on top of the latest trends and updates is crucial for success. With the rise of mobile devices and local searches, Google’s Nearby Filter Nav has become a hot topic among SEO experts and businesses alike.

This innovative feature snippets allows users to refine their search to nearby locations, providing them with more relevant and personalized results. However, its impact on search engine result pages (SERPs) has raised questions and concerns among businesses trying to improve their local visibility.

In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of Google’s Nearby Filter Nav and analyze its effects on SERPs.

By understanding and navigating this feature, businesses can optimize their local search strategy and attract more potential customers to their doorstep. Join us as we unravel the complexities of navigating local search and its impact on SERPs.

Undeniably Focused

Local Relevant keyword searches are undeniably on transactions, and Google recognizes this fact. Whether someone is seeking a quick fix like finding a nearby coffee shop or planning ahead for a special meal by searching for the best risotto in San Francisco, these queries often result in monetary transactions at the local level.

To enhance the transactional aspect, Google has been continuously experimenting with incorporating shopping features into local search results. One notable move was their acquisition of Pointy, which played a crucial role in the creation of the ‘See What’s In Store’ section on Google Business Profiles.

Additionally, until recently, users could access local store listings by conducting a search, selecting the “shopping” tab, and applying the “available nearby” filter, thus providing a convenient display of nearby stores (following the advertisements).

The Aforementioned Functionality

Google has retained the aforementioned functionality, while also venturing into the realm of incorporating a filter menu to the left of the organic search results. This novel addition includes a distinct “nearby” filter, conveniently denoted by a map pin symbol. It is of utmost interest to ascertain the actual impact of this burgeoning feature on result localization, as its effectiveness in this regard would undoubtedly be highly advantageous.

By utilizing the “nearby” filter, Google enhances your search experience by modifying the results according to your proximity, thereby transforming a generic search term like “Christmas ornaments” into a location-specific one such as “Christmas Ornaments Nearby.” This search feature not only aids in narrowing down your relevant search but also provides you with a local pack containing relevant information pertaining to your nearby options.

Worth Noting

Based on my observations, it appears that the current outcome you are viewing is identical to the one you would obtain by initiating a search with the phrase “Christmas ornaments nearby.” It is worth noting that Google has been testing this particular filtering technique for e-commerce searches for more than a year, but its extensive implementation for local searches seems to have only recently become apparent. It seems to be more prevalent for establishments that specialize in selling goods, rather than for entities such as restaurants.

The contents of the package are quite ordinary. They consist of essential contact information, a concise overview of star ratings, a designated product category, a visually appealing photograph, and a strong focus on local relevance through phrases such as “Currently Available, Updated Daily” and “Witnessed by Shoppers.”

By selecting the “In Stock” justification, users can access the Google Business Profile of the respective business, where they can find a comprehensive menu of product offerings powered by Pointy.

The Pointy listings currently do not facilitate direct transactions. Instead, they guide the user to get in touch with the store or visit their website in order to make a purchase.

A Fresh GBP Emerges

In the meantime, when you click on the “Seen by shoppers” justifications, a fresh GBP emerges on the interface. Primarily, I am presented with a condensed overview of positive reviews that emphasize my designated keywords, such as “Christmas” and “ornaments.” Additionally, Mike Blumenthal has observed that this feature also showcases Google Q&A, which further underscores the significance of providing and addressing frequently asked questions within that platform.

Once again, there is no actual shopping taking place on this platform. It merely highlights the specific products or attributes that a searcher is likely seeking. Now, let’s shift our focus to the organic search results. By activating the “Nearby” filter in the left navigation, do the results become more geographically specific and transaction-oriented? This is the question that I am eager to explore.

What is the level of local relevance for the filtered organic results labeled as “nearby”?

This exercise has revealed two significant challenges:

  1. Addressing the issue of analyzing data from infinite scroll search engine results pages (SERPs) presents difficulties. Previously, it was simpler to refer to specific numbers, such as “5 out of 10 entries on page 1” or “50% of the top 10 results.” However, due to the infinite nature of scrolling, it is impossible to calculate precise figures. Consequently, I will select a fixed number of the top 20 organic results for this experiment, excluding carousel of product blocks, paid results, and any additional SERP features.
  2. Understanding local online landscapes becomes complicated when monopolies dominate certain regions. In such cases, it becomes challenging to determine whether search results truly reflect localized options or if Google is limited in its display choices due to the overwhelming presence of a few major brands. To address this, I will evaluate the top 20 organic results based on whether they feature nearby target locations or not.


  • According to recent research, only a mere 20% of the top 20 organic search results include brands that have a physical presence within the city being searched. This means that a staggering 80% of the search engine results pages (SERPs) are not truly local as they extend beyond the city’s borders.

Furthermore, when considering locations within a 10-mile radius of the city, only 20% of the top 20 organic results can be classified as local. Although some goods and services may require a journey of this distance in certain areas of the United States, these results cannot be labeled as hyper-local, yet they still retain a sense of locality.

  • In addition, approximately 15% of the top 20 organic results feature brands with a location within 20 miles of the city of search. However, it is important to note that these results cannot be considered truly local either.
  • Consequently, a significant 45% of the organic search results, when using the “Nearby” filter, are categorized as remote, being located over 20 miles away from the city of search.
  • To emphasize the extent of this issue, if one were to physically visit the nearest location of all 20 businesses featured in the “Nearby” top 20 results, the average driving distance would amount to a staggering 292.46 miles. In fact, for several brands showcased in these results, the closest physical location was found to be thousands of miles away.

The Lack of Truly Local Results

These findings shed light on the lack of truly local results in search engine queries, highlighting the need for improved locality accuracy and relevance in search algorithms.

To provide a concise overview, approximately 20% of the filtered results labeled as “nearby” can genuinely be considered hyper-local, conveniently reachable on foot or by a short drive within the searched city. Another 35% of these results would necessitate venturing beyond city limits, with distances of up to 20 miles by car.

It is worth noting that I have acquaintances residing in certain parts of the country where a 20-mile drive is customary to obtain basic goods and services, as their hometowns no longer cater to essential needs. However, such a situation can be classified as a community lacking essential local amenities.

Is it possible for Google to have made the organic search engine results page (SERPs) more localized for this particular search query?

My next inquiry pertains to whether the organic search engine results accurately represent the availability of Christmas tree ornaments in the local area. Can we trust that the search engine results reflect the reality? Surprisingly, only four out of the twenty businesses set down in the top 20 have a physical location within the city where the search was manage.

The remaining sixteen spots are occupied by businesses located farther away. This raises skepticism about whether there are truly only four establishments within the town that sell these merchandise.

The answer to this initial query is a resounding “NO”! In actuality, there exist numerous places to purchase these goods within the city, including many small boutiques. However, these local establishments are conspicuously absent from the top 20 search results, as they are conceal by renowned brands located at a distance.

Most notably, the local pack within the search results further emphasizes the lack of genuine local representation in the subsequent SERPs.

The search results for Hallmark are rather perplexing. While the brand does appear in the top 20 organic results, the link directs users to an e-commerce page for ornaments, rather than a location landing page for the local branch listed in the local pack.

Nowhere To Be Found

Surprisingly, Amy’s Hallmark Shop, which is the number one result in the local pack, is nowhere to be found in the top organic SERPs, even with the “nearby” filter. Similarly, the second shop specializing in Christmas decor should be prominently present in both the local pack and organic SERPs due to its niche specialization, but it is inexplicably absent below the pack.

On the other hand, the third and larger brand does appear as the number one result in the top 20 organic results. However, instead of leading user intent to the nearby store’s location landing page, the organic result directs them to a generic inventory page on Target’s website.

It is clear that the “nearby” filter does not effectively localize the organic SERPs, as they fail to accurately reflect local product availability and primarily favor remote brands located beyond the city borders. Furthermore, the organic results do not align with the entries in the local packs.

This raises the question of how effective the “nearby” filter truly is in providing localized search results.

Does the “nearby” filter effectively localize the “product blocks”?

Therefore, in the event that this recently prominent filter navigation fails to significantly localize the organic search engine results pages (SERPs), could it possibly be localizing a specific SERP feature commonly referred to as “product blocks”? These particular components resemble unmarked and unsponsored entries.

Upon clicking on each item, a popup will appear displaying product reviews and providing a convenient link to the website for purchasing purposes. This approach ensures a seamless user experience by focusing on relevant content and informative content creation rather than directly facilitating transactions.

The link labeled “visit site” redirects to a product page instead of a location-specific landing page. As an example, when I clicked on the link, it directed me to a page showcasing an ornament that would have required me to travel a distance of 65.1 miles in order to purchase it, since the nearest Target store to my search location does not stock this item.

Actively Promoting

Currently, Google is actively promoting a particular format. Upon examining my sample Search Engine Results Page (SERP), I find that there is a product block that is present after every three organic SERP entries within the top 20 results. This leads to a significant amount of screen space being firm to these product blocks.

Interestingly, upon further analysis, I observe that these blocks predominantly showcase well-established brands, many of which do not have physical stores in the city being explore. Surprisingly, even remote entities such as Amazon are cover in these product blocks. However, it is worth mentioning that I did observe multiple blocks solely presenting merchandise from Target.

The aforementioned observation reveals that Google discloses the presence of a nearby store, approximately 1.3 miles away from what I assume is the central point of the city. This may indicate Google’s attempt to tailor the product blocks to a local audience, even if the nearest store does not actually stock the items featured.

The current search engine results pages (SERPs) fail to accurately reflect the diverse range of local options available. Instead, it seems that Google fills this SERP feature with prominent big-brand stores, whose inventory they have significant access to, even if the featured items are not available at the nearby location.

The Most Noticeable Effect

The inclusion of mileage in the product blocks suggests that this is the most noticeable effect of the “nearby” filter, particularly in the in-SERP product blocks. However, this approach does not seem to be effective, as evident from the considerable distance between myself and the Wondershop Champagne Tinsel Ball at a Target store located an business hour and a half away.

It would be highly beneficial if the “nearby” filter gave greater prominence to a diverse range of local brands, particularly small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The current SERP raises concerns as it reinforces a bias towards larger businesses, giving the impression that these are the primary shopping destinations, despite the significant travel distance required.

However, I am aware that within my example city, people can purchase a vast array of Christmas ornaments from smaller hardware stores, charming nurseries, local bookshops, independent furniture shops, intriguing antique stores, and various home decor and craft boutiques. Google’s SERPs give the impression that big-box retailers are the only viable option (or located 65 miles away), and this is concerning as it perpetuates a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the SERPs influence local shopping decisions, this representation (or lack thereof) poses a threat to small businesses.

Does Not Solely Lie

It is important to note that the responsibility for this issue does not solely lie with Google. The popup for the Champagne Wondershop Tinsel Ball gathers all its information from Target’s comprehensive product landing page. Google cannot display results for inventory it is unaware of, and small local businesses often lack the resources, both in terms of time and budget, to fully utilize all of Google’s features or develop sophisticated websites like multinational enterprises.

Upon examining the websites and organic listings of local brands that sell holiday decor within my town, it is evident that there is a general lack of sufficient search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing efforts, leading to their limited visibility on the web.

Simultaneously, Google has struggled to effectively engage with the majority of its local business index, which comprises SMBs. This has resulted in missed opportunities for support and partnerships. It is not surprising that SEO professionals frequently cite Google’s apparent bias towards featuring big brands in their SERPs, which remains true even with the wider implementation of the “nearby” filter menu.

The dominance of larger businesses appears to outweigh the importance of diversity, even in a local context. However, it is essential to recognize that both sides bear responsibility for this situation.

Nearly two decades have passed since the introduction of Google Maps, yet Google’s index still inadequately represents real local commercial landscapes due to SMBs in various sectors failing to fully embrace the necessary steps and benefits of maximizing their online visibility. Thus, there remains a disconnect between Google and SMBs that has yet to be fully resolved.

In Conclusion

Google’s Nearby Filter Nav can greatly impact local search results and the search ranking of businesses within those results. It is important for businesses to understand and optimize for this feature in order to improve their visibility and attract more customers.

As Google continues to update and refine its algorithms and features, staying informed and adapting SEO strategies and content strategies accordingly will be crucial for businesses to thrive in the competitive landscape of local search.

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