Google My Business: Vicinity Update

A new Google Algorithm update, currently referred to as the Vicinity Update, which primarily affects Google My Business Listings, was rolled out by Google between approximately November 30th and December 8th of 2021. Google confirmed the update on December 16th.

The primary effect that this update has had on rankings is that proximity to the search has become a more important factor, making it more difficult for a business to rank for searches far away from their business location. Previously, this could be accomplished through the use of keywords within the listing and creating strong rankings in SERP (search engine results page) in locations farther away from the location of the business.

At about the same time that the Vicinity update was released, Google made design changes to the local pack, or listing of Google My Business Listings in SERP. The redesigned results will feature a list of three results on the left with a map on the right. The old design—which features three results below a map, has been in place since at least 2016.

Google’s guidelines have not changed much, the algorithm determines SERP results based on relevance, distance, and prominence. Google also suggests that in order to boost visibility, local businesses should:

  • Verify locations
  • Add photos
  • Manage and respond to reviews
  • Enter complete data

As always, Google’s intent with the update is to improve search results for local search. Unfortunately, many local businesses have suffered because of the algorithm change. To survive and thrive, local businesses will have to continue to adapt to the landscape and closely adhere to the guidelines in order to achieve sustainable search success. 

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