Country-specific search results

It isn’t really possible to search the “global web” today. You can, however, try to use Google to search the web of another country by manually manipulating the ccTLD in the URL to divert your search to a different country service than the country you are located in.

But starting recently, that’s no longer possible. Betanews points out that Google makes it harder to search for results from other countries:

Google has announced that it will now always serve up results that are relevant to the country that you’re in, regardless of the country code top level domain names (ccTLD) you use.

What can you do instead? The official Google blog explains in Making search results more local and relevant:

If for some reason you don’t see the right country when you’re browsing, you can still go into settings and select the correct country service you want to receive. Typing the relevant ccTLD in your browser will no longer bring you to the various country services—this preference should be managed directly in settings.

This codifies your country preference, making it harder to switch across different experiences. In the past I’ve both searched in different languages and modified the ccTLD to attempt to locate different search results. Now my searches are limited to the information stored in the US-specific country service maintained by Google, unless I make a settings-level change to affect that.

Searching the global web for information gets a little bit harder. Perhaps market research is showing Google that our hunt for information is more valuable when it’s local (or more “relevant” at least). It’s another way that the web is mediated for our consumption.