Google Announces Local Search Update

Google has announced a host of updates to their local search algorithm with some very interesting changes for Citations and Organic ranking factors.

In this great article by Linda Buquet, we discover that Google is placing a lot more emphasis on Organic ranking factors surrounding our clients websites and intrinsic value to flow on to their Google Places ranking value.

Google Announces Local Search Algorithm Updates

Google just announced a myriad of updates to various elements of search. Below I am highlighting the ones that relate to LOCAL SEO and Google Places. WOWSER looks like organic ranking factors are going to be even more important in this new Venice update.

Search quality highlights: 40 changes for February

This month we have many improvements to celebrate. With 40 changes reported, that marks a new record for our monthly series on search quality. Most of the updates rolled out earlier this month, and a handful are actually rolling out today and tomorrow. We continue to improve many of our systems, including related searches, sitelinks, autocomplete, UI elements, indexing, synonyms, SafeSearch and more. Each individual change is subtle and important, and over time they add up to a radically improved search engine.

Here’s the list for February:

  • More coverage for related searches. [launch codename “Fuzhou”] This launch brings in a new data source to help generate the “Searches related to” section, increasing coverage significantly so the feature will appear for more queries. This section contains search queries that can help you refine what you’re searching for.
  • Tweak to categorizer for expanded sitelinks. [launch codename “Snippy”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] This improvement adjusts a signal we use to try and identify duplicate snippets. We were applying a categorizer that wasn’t performing well for our expanded sitelinks, so we’ve stopped applying the categorizer in those cases. The result is more relevant sitelinks.
  • Less duplication in expanded sitelinks. [launch codename “thanksgiving”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] We’ve adjusted signals to reduce duplication in the snippets for expanded sitelinks. Now we generate relevant snippets based more on the page content and less on the query.
  • More consistent thumbnail sizes on results page. We’ve adjusted the thumbnail size for most image content appearing on the results page, providing a more consistent experience across result types, and also across mobile and tablet. The new sizes apply to rich snippet results for recipes and applications, movie posters, shopping results, book results, news results and more.
  • More locally relevant predictions in YouTube. [project codename “Suggest”] We’ve improved the ranking for predictions in YouTube to provide more locally relevant queries. For example, for the query [lady gaga in ] performed on the US version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in times square], but for the same search performed on the Indian version of YouTube, we might predict… Read More

We are in the process of checking how these new Google updates will affect our clients Google Places rankings but at this stage we don’t see much of a shift in listings.

One thing’s for sure the need to get lots of citations may be less important while at the same time making sure our clients website is properly optimized and important SEO factors are implemented will be vital moving forward!

-Andy

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