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In November, due to algorithm updates, Google Local searches observed ranking peaks that were subsequently “reversed” several times.

The subject of these different updates, which are designed to optimise the ranking of businesses and establishments in the local results (including Google Maps), seems to be the notion of “relevance” and understanding users’ searches.

Google did not officially confirm an update, just the usual recommendation to be attentive to the content as part of weekly updates. However, we have not seen so many radical changes since the Possum algorithm in 2016, which was a huge transition in how Google understood proximity.

Optimisations captured by reports on inconsistent rankings since the beginning of the month and which seem to have stabilised since last week:

source : https://www.brightlocal.com

As previously mentioned, Google appears to want a better understanding of a broader set of search terms for a single company. This includes keywords for the Google My Business categories, which provide more detail about the businesses and/or complementary services.

Choosing a particular category can be a double-edged sword when optimising My Business listings, because the “primary” category affects the ranking considerably more than the additional categories.

At least, that was the case until now. This logic this may switch. Indeed, during the period of instability observed this month, changes have been seen at this level: some local pages which were previously poorly ranked on the terms used in their additional categories (and other fields), have reappeared in the results.

Example of improved local ranking for a company on keywords not in its primary category but present elsewhere in the listing.

source : https://searchengineland.com

It has even been observed that many listings that have optimised their primary category have been relegated to the background, benefiting these other, newly promoted pages.

Overview of the general decline in the ranking during the period of instability for locations in a defined radius.

source : https://www.placesscout.com

The recommendation is therefore to monitor these changes closely and take stock once the results are more stable.

The information given here is from analyses of listings for businesses based in the United States. However, several search engine optimisers in France are worried about seeing their sites slip down the rankings in the traditional search.

 

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