On this week’s Local Search Tuesdays, Greg’s taking the week off, since our new Director of SEO, Dane Saville is in town. Today, he’ll explain the difference between implicit and explicit local searches. It’s important to understand the difference between the two, since the search results you’ll see will be different.

In an explicit search, your search phrase includes a location modifier, like a city or metro area. In an implicit search, your search phrase doesn’t include a location modifier.

Let’s say that we’re looking for a Ford dealership. An implicit search would look like this: “Ford dealer”. Notice how Google displays a map pack, showing the three Ford dealerships that are closest to our location when we did the search, even though we didn’t specify that we wanted local results.

That’s because Google knows this is a search with local intent. Google analyzes the search behavior of every user that does a search, and has figured out that for certain verticals and even certain search phrases, the user wants or needs search results in their immediate local area.

So even with an implicit search that doesn’t include a location term, Google still returns search results.

With an explicit search, you’re telling Google where you want to see results. That could be near your current location, or on the other side of the country. Notice how the search results change slightly when we switch from a search for “Ford dealer” to “Ford dealer Plano”

And the results change again if we search for “Ford dealer Dallas”. It’s not just the map pack either. The organic search results are different between the three as well. Here’s what we see below the map pack for “Ford dealer”, and then “Ford dealer Plano”, and then “Ford dealer Dallas”.

This is why it’s so important to include a location when you’re optimizing your pages. If you’re optimizing for “Ford dealer Plano”, you’ll be optimizing for both explicit and implicit searches. Remember though; your actual location is incredibly influential, so don’t try to optimize for a completely different city than where you’re located just because you want to try to show up there. It won’t work, and you’ll be missing out on tons of traffic.