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Location Boundaries Overview| Hitchhikers Platform

What You’ll Learn

In this section, you will learn:

  • What a bounding box is and what minimum location radius is
  • Use cases and reasons to adjust your radius

Location search is a crucial component of our Answers algorithm as you may recall from earlier units. By default, location search spans a radius of 25 miles from your location’s zip code, city/state, place or from current location. However, there are occasions when you will want to restrict or expand this radius which we will cover in this module.

Overview of a Bounding Box

A Bounding Box should be considered when you want to restrict location search to a certain area. A bounding box is an area defined by 2 coordinates — two latitude/longitude pairs that ultimately outline the diagonal straight of a rectangle — where latitude is a decimal number between -90.0 and 90.0, and longitude is a decimal number between -180.0 and 180.0. For example, the red box here is a bounding box:

Bounding Box red box

The coordinates of the above box are: -87.455163,38.498542, -85.027184,40.557439

Adding a bounding box is a best practice for Search Configuration where all Knowledge Graph addresses are geographically close in proximity. It’s important to know that address matches within the Answers Search algorithm are often influenced by where the user is searching from. By limiting the scope in which Answers can search for an address match, we can produce accurate results more consistently and ultimately create a better user experience.

Minimum Location Radius Overview

We also have the ability to set the location radius by vertical. By default, if a user searched for an address, a zip code or a place we will use a radius of 25 miles to find locations. However, just as you can restrict the location area with a bounding box, you can adjust this radius to be smaller or wider in the Search Configuration. We’ll show you how to do so in the next unit.

Common Use Cases & Best Practices

When to use a bounding box: For any business that is local (as opposed to national or global), a bounding box is recommended to improve the accuracy of location search. For example, a bounding could be useful for a regional bank only located in the Pacific Northwest.

When not to use a bounding box: If a business has entities across a country or across the world, this configuration option will not help and should not be used.

One of the primary reasons a bounding box is useful is that there are a lot of duplicate names for cities, regions, towns, states and other places. In the U.S., there are a dozen cities named Portland. How do you tell Answers which Portland you are referring to – Maine, Oregon, or neither? When conducting a search like “bankers in portland,” a bounding box can help improve the location accuracy and narrow the results around the correct Portland area.

To take another example, let’s say we have an Ohio-based dental company utilizing Answers.

Without a bounding box - if you search ‘Columbus’ you’ll be matched to the Columbus nearest to you, and not necessarily the capital city of Ohio: “Columbus”. For example, if you search from New York, NY, the closest Columbus is “Columbus, NJ”, and since there are no locations for this business in Columbus, NJ, Answers will show no results! As a user, I am confused. That can’t be! With a bounding box - we mitigate address matching errors such as the one above by ensuring we are only searching within the scope of Ohio. Searching “Columbus” will appropriately yield all locations in or near Columbus, OH.

Note: Adding a bounding box does not have to be only for one state (e.g., Ohio) or region. For example: if you have locations in a few East Coast US states, and want to exclude the West Coast, the bounding box can, if needed, span these East Coast states.

When to consider minimum location radius - there may be a variety of reasons to expand the radius for location search beyond or below 25 miles. When setting this radius, you always want to consider how far a user would travel realistically to a location. One example could be a healthcare business that has wide service areas – you may want to add a larger radius to ensure that the correct locations surface that can serve that area.

unit Quiz
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    Error Success Question 1 of 3

    True or False: A business has locations all along the East Coast as well as in a few locations in the Midwest, so we should apply a bounding box around the East Coast.

    Error Success Question 2 of 3

    Which of the following does a bounding box require?

    Error Success Question 3 of 3

    True or False: A Food Services business that only has restaurants in central Indiana is a good use case for a bounding box.

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