Google has confirmed the November 2019 local search update on Twitter. What has changed, and what do you have to do to keep your local rankings?
What exactly has changed?
Google now uses neural matching to go beyond the exact words in business name or description. This helps Google to understand conceptually how these might be related to the words searchers use and their intents.
In early November, we began making use of neural matching as part of the process of generating local search results. Neural matching allows us to better understand how words are related to concepts, as explained more here: https://t.co/ShQm7g9CvN— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) December 2, 2019
In other words, your business listing might be shown for search terms that do not appear in your business name or description.
The update has fully rolled out, rankings can change
Google confirmed that this was a global launch covering countries and languages worldwide. The update has fully rolled out:
Neural matching in local search — which we call the Nov. 2019 Local Search Update — has now fully rolled out. However, as with web search, results can change as there are smaller updates that happen all the time, as well as content itself that constantly changes.— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) December 2, 2019
Just like regular search results, the new local search results can change over time.
What do you have to do now?
Google says that you don’t have to change anything:
The use of neural matching in local search doesn’t require any changes on behalf of businesses. Those looking to succeed should continue to follow the fundamental advice we offer here: https://t.co/tPkyuyMjsP— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) December 2, 2019
There are some things that you can do. For example, you should have a complete Google My Business profile, you should upload photos and videos, you should verify your locations, keep your hours accurate, and you should respond to reviews.
How does Google rank local results?
Google ranks local results based on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for a search.
For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.
Is your website listed in Google’s local search results?
Use the local SEO tools in SEOprofiler to ensure that your web pages can be found in the right locations. For example, you get ranking checks on city-level, and you can track the positions of businesses that do not have a website: