In early December, Google rolled out an algorithm update that turned out to be the most important local search update in several years, just that! The international search giant confirmed the update on December 16, 2021. on Twitter. Google described this local SEO update as “a rebalancing of various factors taken into account to drive local search results.”
Local SEO update from November / December 2021, official information from Google
Of course, as usual, the search engine remained very vague on the criteria which evolved.
There is still no question for Google to reveal to SEOs the weight of each local SEO SEO factor, although they are quite commonly known to web marketers.
Only the weight of each factor in the algorithm remains really secret.
What are the 3 main local SEO positioning factors in 2021/2022?
The three factors determining the ranking of local searches are:
Just like in “classic” natural referencing, there are 3 pillars (technical, semantics, popularity), in local natural referencing, this is also the case with these three main factors.
Although Google does not disclose the precise weighting of each factor, it is evident that with the rebalancing that began on November 30, 2021, proximity is gaining more and more weight.
These changes could have an impact on your Google Business Profile in local search (and those of your competitors).
We therefore strongly invite you to follow your local SEO positions with a dedicated SEO tool to monitor this type of development.
What to understand from this local SEO update
While Google hasn’t officially announced any changes to its local search optimization guidelines, the update does not change the company’s local search goals, but instead focuses on improving the quality of local search results.
In other words, it achieves this improvement by increasing the weight of proximity in its ranking.
Previously, a business listing’s relevance to search terms played a more important role in determining top rankings in local search results.
Often times, this meant that the SERP returned a search result even though the business was not close to the searcher’s location.
By focusing more on proximity, this update helps fight against optimizations made by SEOs who managed to fool the algorithm and go up in local SEO on searched keywords even if their location did not exactly match the research requested.
Over time, more and more companies have learned to manipulate their Google my Business listings to pick up on requests on which they were illegitimate to position themselves so high, because geographically too far from the actual location of the Internet user. .
1- Location, a local SEO criterion from now on extremely important!
As a result of this local SEO update, businesses that are close to the searcher should see an improved presence in the local SEO SERP and in Google’s local pack.
Conversely, companies further away from the researcher will see a drop in their share of local voice.
2- Keyword stuffing is now better detected and penalized by Google on its local SEO algorithm
While the algorithm update emphasizes proximity, Google’s long-standing and closely related secondary goal of fighting spam.
We note, to a certain extent, that the visibility of companies with over-optimized names are sometimes penalized by this algorithmic update (however, it should be qualified with the fact that the most impacted businesses are those who realize keyword stuffing throughout their file (examples of practices not to be reproduced).
3- This update is not linked to the one on the change from the local pack to the desktop version
While all of this is happening in a close sequence, this local algorithmic update is apparently unrelated to the UI change for the local pack to the desktop version.
From now on, as seen in our dedicated article, in desktop only, the results are no longer displayed under the map but to the left of the map.
What to remember from this new update of the Google algorithm dedicated to local SEO
Google’s latest algorithm update for local search places greater emphasis on proximity as a ranking factor.
The rebalancing effort is already having a visible impact on search results:
Large, relevant companies that are geographically farther away from the searcher see lower rankings in the local pack, while closer and equally relevant companies with previously less importance rank higher.
The decrease in the inclusion of keywords in the company name now further protects local SERPs against keyword stuffing and SPAM (although this still works).