Home How This Month’s Google Search Changes Affect Local Businesses

How This Month’s Google Search Changes Affect Local Businesses

Google announced a big slate of changes to search this month. It confirmed a refresh of the “Panda” tweaks to the search algorithm that are designed to punish low-quality content that games search results. There are many new tweaks to parts of the algorithm, including “freshness,” link evaluation and detection of official pages.

But the most interesting changes are to the results themselves. In particular, there are several changes to the way local search results appear that will significantly affect SEO for local businesses.

The algorithm tweak with the codename “Venice” “improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.” That means the same search engine optimization practices used for websites will now have more of an effect on Google Places results as well.

Another of this month’s updates improves the reliability of detecting whether search queries and documents are local to the person searching. Google is improving the targeting of search results to specific places. Good SEO practices are even more important for local businesses who want to be found through search.

Local searches are instrumental to Google’s advertising business, because it’s the perfect place for businesses to advertise on an increasingly mobile Web. In recent years, Google has faced some scrutiny for the aggressive changes it has made to the way local places appear in search. Competitors like Yelp feel that Google gives its own results for places an unfair advantage over third parties in search.

Undaunted, Google has taken control over updates to Google Places listings and begun buying up content and commerce companies to improve its local offerings. It’s starting to build in recommendation features to Google Places to render Yelp unnecessary. It’s even beginning to extend Google Maps inside buildings.

It’s essential for businesses who want to be found on Google (that is, all businesses) to get on top of these local-focused changes to Google. This month’s search changes emphasize the fact that detailed results for places are a core part of Web search now.

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