Three major changes were made to the Google search engine algorithm in February 2012 affecting local search rankings, as follows (Source: Inside Search – Google Search blog):
1) Improvements to freshness. “[project codename “Freshness”] We’ve applied new signals which help us surface fresh content in our results even more quickly than before.”
2) Improvements to ranking for local search results. “This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.”
3) Improved local results.* “We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.”
*Note: Local results described here pertain to your Google Places listing being displayed on the first page of normal Google organic search results.
How does this impact your web presence?
You may start to see minor changes to Google search results based on your “localized” keyword phrases. A localized keyword phrase is a keyword that contains a city or region as part of the phrase (i.e. “Downtown Toronto Hotels”).
1) Depending on the organic search signals that you have been building with Google, your local results may appear more often than before. Or if your competitors are more optimized for local phrases, your local listing may not appear.
2) Your organic search results may appear with your local search results – as a combination organic search result.
3) Freshness of your content will have a direct impact on how Google perceives your website and will contribute to the success of your local results showing up.
4) Ensure that your Google Places listing is at least 90% configured with content because an incomplete Place Page can have a negative impact on your local search results.
What has gShift added recently in Web Presence Optimizer™ to help clients?
We responded immediately by developing the ability to track the position of your local search results and to report if and when they appear or disappear.
To view your local search results in gShift Labs, go to the “All Keywords” tab in the Keywords section. The local keyword phrase ranking data will also be included in your monthly reports.
Will this positively affect your gShift Score?
Yes. Your gShift Score represents your overall search visibility based on the keyword phrases that you want your web presence to rank for. Now that it includes localized search results, your gShift Score will increase based on your presence in Google Places.
What can you do to learn more?
Contact our client success team to review your data and they can provide guidance on these new changes and how you can change them into opportunities. Also read: Getting Found in Local Search: Playing by Google’s Rules.