In Articles, Google Algorithm Changes

Google confirms algorithm update to local search results. They are referring to these changes as the November 2021 local search update and it’s already wreaking havoc. Local businesses have noticed seismic shifts in their local search rankings over the last few weeks. Yesterday, Google confirmed these important updates to the local search algorithm.

Here’s what we know. On December 16th, Google confirmed a local algorithm update. They started the update on November 30th and it ran through December 8th.

Rebalancing Factors

This update involved a “rebalancing” of ranking factors Google considers when generating local search results. This update is officially being referred to as the November 2021 local search update, although the changes likely wouldn’t have been felt until the first week of December. Others in the industry have dubbed it ‘Vicinity’. Whatever you call Google’s most recent algorithm update change, it is the largest algorithm disruption since 2016 when Possum was released.

Google’s guidance regarding this update is to continue following local SEO best practices, which are linked to in the tweet embedded above.

Keep in mind the weight of each ranking factor listed in Google’s help guide has been rebalanced.

The ranking factors for Google’s local search results are:

  • Relevance: how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for.
  • Distance: how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search.
  • Prominence: how well known a business is

Since Google never gives exact details regarding the weight of each ranking factor, we believe the best way to respond to these updates is to rebalance your Google Business Profile efforts.

For example, if you were focused more on optimizing for relevance by beefing up your Google Business Profile with information, maybe now is the time to focus more on the prominence of your business.

Most business owners wouldn’t even know there was a seismic Google algorithm shakeup. They would feel it at the cash register but they wouldn’t necessarily know why sales lagged. It is fairly easy for SEO companies, like 316 Strategy Group, to determine if your business was impacted by the November 2021 local search update.

November was an eventful month in SEO, with a number of Google algorithm shakeups.

Proximity has long been a very important ranking factor for search results. This update certainly targes proximity as a very important ranking factor for local search results.

If you’re a local business owner, this update is good news for you. The November 2021 update will give your local business a greater chance to rank higher in relevant local Google searches. The bottom line is that you’ll be competing less with businesses that are farther away from the consumer searching for you.

There is no longer an advantage to keyword stuffing. Business owners who had been gaming the system with keyword stuffing in their business names will notice a decrease in their rankings. Finally, right!?!

When it comes to adding keywords into the business name of a Google Business Profile (GBP) listing, research from Sterling Sky found that the update has decreased the potential advantage of doing so. This will reward business owners like you who’ve played by the rules and followed Google’s guidelines on keyword stuffing.

We’re excited to think that the November update has clamped down the impact of businesses trying to game the system with keyword stuffing in their business names. ~ Joseph Kenney, 316 Strategy Group

Businesses who were gaming the system have seen decreased map visibility while other businesses may have seen positive shifts in their local pack results.

What Do You Do Now?

Use. Best. Practices. This never goes out of style. The recent tweet from Google Search Controle provided a link to guidelines on how to improve local rankings. There isn’t anything new in this guidance. The guidelines suggest local business owners focus on the following:
  • Relevance
  • Distance
  • Prominence

In a nutshell, nothing to see here. The guidelines also suggest that in order to increase local search visibility, business owners should focus their Google Business Profiles on the following:

  1. Add Photos
  2. Enter complete data on the Google Business Profile
  3. Verify locations
  4. Manage and respond to every review
  5. Keep hours of operation up to date and accurate

Anytime Google Confirms an Algorithm update, their intent is to match the search request with the best local results. Local business owners will have to be vigilant and flex to the guidelines and future Google updates. If they don’t, their competition will pass them up. It’s that simple.

Get Local Search Help Now

Want to get started with your local Google Search Results? Visit the 316 Strategy Group website to learn more about our local SEO services. You can read more articles on SEO and local Google search at the 316 Strategy blog and be sure to sign up today for consulting on your business.

If you need immediate help sifting through the November 2021 Google Algorithm changes, please contact:

For local SEO help in Omaha, call 402-415-9842.

For local SEO help in Des Moines, call 515-779-6954.

For local SEO help in Kansas City, call 913-289-3009.

For local SEO help in Grand Island, call 308-390-7689.



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