One of the perks of international travel is getting to see what the SERPs really look like in other countries. Check out this query for “Sams Club”* I did while in Barcelona yesterday:
So Google thinks the “Barcelona” line of Sam’s Club furniture is relevant to me simply because I am in Barcelona. Note my query never specified location. Google just knows there’s a page called “Barcelona” which matches the name of city I am in. If had been in Helsinki and Sam’s had a line of much-needed Helsinki Bullshit Deflectors, it probably would have shown those.
The challenge is that Google often is not clear if a search query has local intent (we have talked a lot about this in our presentations on our Local SEO Ranking Factors Study). Google often is not sure if the searcher wants a document (aka “a web page”) relevant to a location or a document relevant to a word/phrase, entity or whatever. For another good example, see this post on Near Me SEO.
From the above result you can see that Google thinks there could be some local intent to the search (likely because Sam’s has retail locations) so it is showing me the Barcelona pages in the sitelinks. Had it been 100% confident, it likely would have shown the Barcelona URL as the top result (like a store page).
These results are not catastrophes but they could cause some confusion and possible abandonment for less-savvy clickers. They are not what I would call “good for users.” They do illustrate how tricky location can be for an algorithm.
My advice to retailers and any other sites with issues like these is to make it super clear which pages contain relevant location information by using structured markup. You could even link from the Barcelona product pages to the Barcelona store page with the anchor text=”Barcelona”. If Sam’s actually had a Barcelona location, that would make it more likely to appear in these results above the product pages. In extreme cases you may also consider either noindexing these URLs or using the Google Search Console Remove URL tool to get rid of these unwanted results.
This is an edge-case to be sure, but when you are operating at international brand scale, a few thousand edge cases can add up.
*A much-beloved LSG client
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