Google recently released a new algorithm intended to provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals. The changes will be visible within the Google Maps search results as well as Google Web search results. This revised algorithm goes far deeper in terms of search capabilities and businesses’ location ranking parameters.
The changes include:
1. change in Google Maps and organic listings for search terms that return a local search results box within the main results, leading to results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals
2. An improvement in location detection (GPS/cellular) making the service more accurate.
3. Results returned will use more data from Google’s knowledge graph as wells as reviews, citations, mentions, PR and local directories.
4. Improved distance and location ranking parameters.
The new algorithm is currently rolling out for US English results and aims to provide a more useful and relevant experience for searchers seeking local results. People have already noticed a reduction (or the complete removal) of local search results shown in SERPs for search terms such as ‘real estate’ and in the inclusion of local search results for terms related to SEO agencies. The latter had previously not shown up after being manually restricted by Google.
Google did not divulge any details pertaining to if and when the update might roll out to other countries and languages, but it’s important to keep an eye on what’s going on and prepare for the arrival of the update.
Also, MozCast demonstrated a precipitous decline with their tool that measures pack visibility, and they noted that this update had caused location pack results to suffer a huge drop. 7 Packs, for example, declined by over 60%!
Moz also showed that certain queries benefitted while others lost out. For example, ‘apartments’ and ‘apartments for rent’ queries fared completely differently, with the latter gaining pack results, whilst the former lost them (although Moz’s data only saw an increase in 3-packs with no real change in 2-pack). The outcome of Pigeon is interesting as it also solves Yelp’s problem. Considering the recent “whining,” and the fact that the EU antitrust settlement is largely behind them, it seems an odd time to move the SERPs in this direction.
Personally, I believe that Google may be attempting to do too much in one update, given the considerable complexity of local search, and so this is something that we certainly need to keep an eye on.
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