Back in November and December of 2021, Google began rolling out the largest local search algorithm update since the Hawk update in 2017. Now that the dust has settled a bit, let’s take a look at the 3 biggest ways the update has changed the algorithm, and what it means for businesses with local listings.
1. Don’t Use Keywords In Your Business Name
When it comes to SEO, it’s common knowledge that tactics that are against the rules sometimes pay off in the short run. There’s a reason most experts (including us) warn against it, however, because flouting these rules in favor of short term gains always comes back to bite businesses. This was the case with keyword stuffing in business names. Despite having a rule included in its guidelines stating “Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your listing being suspended,“ many businesses found that adding these keywords caused their businesses to rank higher. As is also the case with SEO, following the rules almost always pays off in the long run, as Google changes its algorithm to better reward businesses that stick to the guidelines. Businesses that previously used unnecessary keywords in their business names are likely seeing sizable losses after this update. Use the official name of your business across all of your listings.
2. Proximity Is Even More Important
Proximity has always been an important factor in local rankings, but the recent update seems to have increased the importance of this factor even further. If a business was previously ranking highly in a local search despite being far away from the searcher, they’ve likely seen a decrease after this update. This is good news for businesses with secondary or multiple locations, however, as the importance of a primary location seems to have diminished. To put it simply, closer is better.
3. Local Pack Results Have Been Redesigned
Instead of local results showing up underneath a map with the locations of each result, the map and results have been redesigned. They now display side by side, with the map on the right and the results on the left. Here’s what it looks like now:
We Can Help
With the right strategy in place, algorithm updates aren’t scary. Curious what these updates mean for your local search rankings? Speak with one of our digital marketing experts for a free consultation. They’ll walk you through your current results and give you actionable Advice to rank higher.