Back in November 2021, Google confirmed that it was running a new algorithm update that would impact local SEO results. The update referred to as the ‘November 2021 local search update’ or the ‘Vicinity update’, involved a “rebalancing of various factors considered in generating local search results”.
According to Search Engine Land, the update has allowed for small, local, and even less established businesses to rank in search results that are closer to the user. For businesses that are new or less established than their competitors in local areas, this update is significant. The update has also been found to benefit businesses that don’t utilise relevant keywords in their business name, which Google has previously placed heavy emphasis on.
Local search results take into account 3 core factors:
Relevance - How well your business matches the query. Your business information will help to match searchers with the most appropriate results.
Distance - How close your business is to the searcher.
Prominence - How well known your business is in the area and how much information Google has on it. For example, you may find that local museums or theatres rank high in local search results because there have been more articles written about them or more ratings given.
There are a few steps that you can take to ensure that your business is visible to local customers through Google. Here’s what Google recommends:
Business hours might have changed during the pandemic, so do ensure that you’re regularly updating your business information, hours of operation and contact details when relevant. This will help to maximise the chances of people finding your business, and also help to keep customers informed.
Reviews matter when it comes to gaining local customers and search rankings. Ensure that you’re regularly managing your Google reviews and responding to any feedback you receive.
You want your customers to be able to find your business locally as easily as possible. Ensure that you verify your location with Google Maps and Search.
Google recommends adding images to your Google profile to build trust and to show online shoppers what you offer.
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