Updated Google Local Search Ranking Algorithm Strengthens “Openness” Signal
Google recently released a modification to its local search ranking algorithm. The update strengthens the importance of the “openness” signal for non-navigational queries. This was confirmed by Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, who stated: “We have been using ‘openness’ as a vital element of our local ranking algorithm for quite awhile, but it has recently emerged as a much more powerful signal for non-navigational queries.”
What Has Changed in the Local Search Ranking Algorithm?
Reports earlier this month indicated a noticeable shift in how Google ranks businesses in its local search results. Primarily, businesses listed as currently open seemed to have a priority in the rankings over those listed as closed. Joy Hawkins, in her investigative report, noted: “As of November 2023, Google seems to be considering the ‘open’ status of a business as a key factor in its local pack rankings.”
“Openness” as a Ranking Signal: Google’s Confirmation
A few weeks following the release of the report, Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed the speculation about the ‘open’ status of businesses influencing rankings. Again referring to the longstanding use of ‘openness’ as a crucial part of Google’s local ranking algorithm, Sullivan reiterated the fact that it has recently evolved into a much stronger signal, particularly for non-navigational queries.
In the Context of Navigational and Non-Navigational Queries
Non-navigational queries are those which center on the types of services users are searching for, rather than targeting specific brands. Thus, a search for a general term like ‘pharmacy’ qualifies as a non-navigational query, while a branded search for ‘CVS’ would be considered a navigational query.
Business Hours and their Impact on Local Search Rankings
The report suggested benefits for businesses operating on a 24-hour basis, as these could potentially rank higher during evening time periods, even as competitors drop out of the ranking. However, Sullivan warned against adjusting business hours in an attempt to manipulate the ranking algorithm.
He stated: “There might be various amendments as we continue to assess its utility. Hence, I wouldn’t suggest that businesses attempt to tweak their ‘open’ times, considering the ranking signal may continue to be refined.”
Understanding the Impact on Your Business
Noticing any alterations to your Google Business Profile listings? This could be due to the recent update. As a business owner, it’s vital to ensure your listed business hours mirror your actual operational times. Fabricating business hours could potentially lead to penalties in the future.
Role of MKTG Plan in Light of Google’s Algorithm Update
As a dedicated marketing agency, MKTG Plan plays a crucial role in guiding businesses through these algorithm updates and helping them optimize their web design and local search listings. Whether it is about deciding the exact business hours listed on the Google Business Profile, or understanding the algorithm’s impact on your business, our experienced team of digital marketing and SEO specialists stands ready to assist.
Ultimately, it’s clear that Google is now prioritizing businesses that are open at the time of the search in its local search results. Whether this shift is beneficial or detrimental largely depends on the specific search query. Regardless, understanding and taking advantage of these changes is paramount for effective SEO and web design optimization – areas where MKTG Plan’s expertise shines through.
Local Business Adaptations and Future Predictions
While the adjustment of business hours might not be recommended or could even potentially lead to a penalty, local businesses can still turn towards other means of improving their local search rankings. Elements such as customer reviews, response rate, and overall interaction on your Google Business Profile can still play an influential role in Google’s local ranking algorithm.
As Google continues to update and refine this “openness” signal, it is expected that the trend of prioritizing current open businesses will remain, but not without potential exceptions or additional factors contributing to rankings. While predictions cannot be made with certainty, the agility to respond in tune with these evolving algorithms remains the key to maintaining an effective presence in Google’s local search results.
Final Thoughts and Expectations
The world of SEO and web design is ever-evolving, and the ability to adapt to these changes is crucial for businesses aiming at a strong online presence. While the updates in the local search ranking algorithm by Google strengthen the “openness” signal, it is important to take note of these changes and align your business operations accordingly.
With experts in SEO, web design, and digital marketing, MKTG Plan is prepared to guide your business on the path to optimal online visibility. Our dedicated team will analyze the changing landscape and help implement strategies to keep your digital presence strong, irrespective of the modifications in search algorithms.
What is the “openness” signal in Google’s local search ranking algorithm?
The “openness” signal refers to whether a business is currently open at the time of a user’s search. Recently, Google updated its local search ranking algorithm to prioritize businesses currently open, particularly for non-navigational queries.
What are non-navigational queries, and how do they differ from navigational queries?
Non-navigational queries are general searches for services rather than specific brands. For example, searching for “pharmacy” is a non-navigational query, while searching for “CVS” is a navigational query.
How can MKTG Plan assist businesses following the update in Google’s local search ranking algorithm?
MKTG Plan, as a dedicated digital marketing agency, offers expert guidance in navigating through these changes. Our experienced digital marketing and SEO specialists can assist with optimizing your web design and search listings, and provide strategic advice in line with evolving algorithms.