Local Search Sees Biggest Update from Google in Years

Local SEOs Navigate Through Major Shifts

local google search updateBack on December 8, I posted on the Local Search Forum to see if anyone else in the local SEO industry was seeing a large amount of fluctuations in local search results.

To my surprise, I was not alone. And after weeks of deliberation, Google finally confirmed that they in fact did release an update targeting local search:

This was one of the first updates recently that Google did not notify the public on before it was released. Per Danny Sullivan at Google, “We have a lot of updates all the time and don’t announce them all. We do try to announce those that are likely to be noticeable. That was a miss in this case; we’ll work to do better going forward.”

Answering Your Questions on This Update

Here is what we have gathered so far on this new update for local SEO:

What Changed?

While Google has not come forward to state anything specific they updated, Joy Hawkins of Sterling Sky posted an article with her insights on the update, naming it the vicinity update.

In her findings, she states that she is noticing:

  • An increased priority on proximity
  • Smaller, more zoomed in map packs
  • Less of a focus on keyword stuffing

Who Was Impacted?

Sullivan confirmed on Twitter that the update is indeed global, and in Hawkin’s article, she commented on how it seems to be hitting every industry but especially those that are keyword rich and notoriously spammy, such as the legal field.

How Can I Improve My Local Rankings?

While there is no clear solution for businesses who have been impacted by this major update, Google advises that businesses keep these 3 things in mind to improve rankings:

  • Relevance – Is your business relevant to the search query?
  • Distance – How far is your business from the location of the search?
  • Prominence – How well known is your business? (Reviews, links, directories, etc.)

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Sarah Blocksidge

About the Author

Sarah Blocksidge

Sarah is the Marketing Director at Sixth City Marketing and has been with the company since 2016. Her main role is to attract more B2B clients for the company via various SEO, web design, and PPC strategies. Over the years, she has been mentioned on HubSpot, Search Engine Land, GoDaddy, Content Marketing Institute, Fast Company, and Mashable.

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