What and where!
Google uses a local algorithm that is clever 'most of the time'. It understands what users type into Google Search when they are looking for local services such as Plumbers, Cinemas and Bowling Allys as a good example.
It normally associates
where, it can also associate other words such as
around more specific locations and even
For example all the searches below will return local search results:
- Bowling Bournemouth
- Bowling in Bournemouth
- Bowling around Bournemouth
- Bowling in Bournemouth Dorset UK
- Bowlplex bowling Bournemouth
When might you see local search results not working?
Google only enables local search results on things that Google thinks you are searching for locally. In some niches they even disable local search results, they can also not display results if they choose not too, i.e the search volume is too low.
Examples of when it doesn't work
- Bowling shoes Bournemouth
- Awesome plumbers Bournemouth
The above examples would only work if the search volume is high enough or the company name contains the keywords. You shouldn't expect all searches to return local search results as organic still has its place in the world.
You should also be aware that searchers that are logged in often see catered search results. Sites they regularly visit or if Google detects you in same area it may only require the keyword without the location to return local search results. This chances from niche to niche.
Improving your local search rankings
I recommend you take a look at this post on Pro Webmasters on increasing your local rankings. For serps that do not have local results displaying on you or your competitors you need to increase your organic normal rankings.