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Local Search Is Changing — Is Your Business on Top of It?

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Local Search Is Changing Is Your Business on Top of It

Optimizing your local search marketing strategies is critical for earning a prominent online presence for your business. Google and other search engines regularly update their algorithms to adjust the factors they consider and how much weight they put into each. Business owners and marketers need to stay on top of ongoing algorithmic adjustments to keep their brands visible online.

This guide explains some recent changes to Google’s algorithm and how you can address them.

Local SEO: The Basics

Local search engine optimization (local SEO) includes all the strategies and tactics that help your business rank on search engines when a searcher is looking for information about a product or service available through a provider in their local area.

Local queries are often referred to as "near me” searches, as in “pizza restaurant near me.” The first three local Google search results are known as the Local Pack or Local Map Pack when accompanied by a map showing the locations of businesses in the pack.

So now let’s look at what’s changed — and not changed — in local search.

Several Key Local Search Ranking Factors Stay the Same

Many local search optimization factors remain foundational to ranking in the Local Pack.


The acronyms EAT (expertise, authority, trust) or EEAT (experience, expertise, authority, and trust) are still the foundation of Google search rankings.

When Google’s search engine algorithm scans and evaluates your business’s Google Business Profile (GBP) listing and website content, it attempts to verify that your business is highly experienced in what the searcher is looking for, is an expert in what they do, is authoritative in their industry, and is trustworthy.

All your listing and site content, including customer reviews, should demonstrate all these things.

GBP Completeness

Your Google Business Profile (GBP) should be as complete and current as possible to earn a high search ranking, including:

  • Business address (if applicable)

  • Business name

  • Business phone number and other contact information

  • Website

  • Reviews and responses to them

  • Local landing page or microsite

  • Photos

  • Hours of operation

  • Business category

  • Payment information

  • Business profile or description

Google serves up businesses with complete and current profiles that best match the user’s search query.

Greater Emphasis on Images and the Q&A Section

Google is focusing more on the photos and question-and-answer section of business listings than in the past. It’s critical to always have new pictures to post and to regularly answer questions users ask your business.

Google’s algorithm looks favorably on responses to questions. Posting timely and helpful answers will definitely help your business rank, especially if you handle this task better than your competitors.

Answering questions may seem tedious, but it can pay off beyond just appearing in the local pack. Reviewing and responding to questions will also provide your business with valuable information on improving marketing, products, and services and making information more findable.

Having about ten images on your GBP should be adequate. Make sure they’re updated regularly and offer something valuable to people checking out your business.

Google Posts Become Less of a Priority

Google now places less emphasis on the posts associated with business listings. Google no longer reports on data from the posts, which indicates their decline in importance. Most businesses see no drop in their search rankings when they stop posting. This could free up a significant amount of time to focus on more critical aspects of SEO.

Google Could Have a Local Search Competitor

It’s rumored that Apple may develop its own search engine. The company launched Apple Business Connect, which is similar to Google’s local search map, business listings, and other search engine functionality. Stay tuned for more information about this emerging platform.

Local Search Changes: Final Thoughts

Keeping up with every local search marketing optimization can be challenging, but it’s worthwhile. Appearing in the Local Pack can drive a lot of business to your door. Stay alert for news from Google and keep reading our blog to stay current.

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