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July 2014 Google Update to Impact Local Businesses
If you own a local business, it’s likely that you will be impacted (if you haven’t been already) by the most recent Google update to its local search algorithm. In case you’re unfamiliar, the local search algorithm impacts the “local pack” of search results as well as the Google Map results.
According to Search Engine Land, “Google told us that the new local search algorithm ties deeper into their web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search along with search features such as Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms and more. In addition, Google said that this new algorithm improves their distance and location ranking parameters.”
Prior to this update, where and whether your local business showed up in local search results depended heavily on the quantity and consistency of local citations, as well as reviews, on sites like Yelp!, Google+ Local, Bing, Yahoo, and other online directories.
Search engine forum users have been seeing the impacts of this update as early as 8:00 p.m. last night. Many analysts are reporting that search terms that used to return a 7 pack (seven listings in the local pack) have been reduced to a 3 pack or eliminated altogether.
For example, one commenter on the Search Engine Land article noted that a search for [city] Realtor no longer turns up local search results (I tried and confirmed this myself).
As usual, many conspire that Google has released yet another algorithm update as a push for more revenue by reducing the number of local listings in an effort to get more companies to sign up for paid search.
If you own a local business and see a drop in website traffic or call volume, you may have been impacted by the July 2014 change to the local search algorithm. While it’s not clear what percentage of search queries have been impacted or what “behind-the-scenes” changes have been made to the algorithm, we’re likely to see more local rankings bounce as they continue to roll out the update and our analysts will have additional data on:
- The type of sites and industries that have been removed from the local pack
- The types of sites that are now in the top spot of the local pack
- What ranking signals are now most important for local SEO
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