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In the last week of December 2021, Google confirmed its November 2021 update to local search and map pack results. The update, which was officially referred to as the November 2021 local search update, began on November 30, 2021, and was completed rolling out on December 8, 2021. Reliable organic SEO companies keep track of Google’s algorithm updates and trends to understand how it can impact their clients’ digital marketing campaign.

The November 2021 local search update involved a rebalancing of various factors that Google considers in generating local search results. The news about this update was confirmed through Google Search Central’s Twitter handle:

Looking into the Impact of Google’s November 2021 Local Search Update

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Many local businesses witnessed huge fluctuations in their local search rankings during the rollout period. According to BrightLocal, this is the largest change to the local algorithm since Possum in 2016 and has caused widespread ranking disruption.

As the tweet indicates, Google has recommended following its guidelines to improve ranking in local search. As per Google, we should keep in mind that the weight of each ranking element indicated in Google’s help guide has been rebalanced.

What Changed with the November 2021 Local Update

To better understand the impact of this update, let’s take a look at what changed. The ranking factors for Google’s local search results are based primarily on three factors:

  • Relevance: This ranking factor refers to how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for. To help Google better understand your business and match your profile to relevant searches, add complete and detailed business information.
  • Distance: This factor considers how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search. For instance, if a user doesn’t specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what it knows about their location.
  • Prominence: This relates to how well known a business is. Search results try to reflect the details of a business – such as places that are more prominent in the offline world (famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands) –in local ranking. This ranking factor is also based on information that Google has about a business, from across the web – such as links, articles, and directories. Along with this, position in web results and Google review count and review score also factor into local search ranking — more reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking.

Impact on Businesses

Both large and small businesses are experiencing changes in their rankings following the November 2021 update. As the algorithm reduced the weight of keywords in business names, companies that didn’t have keywords in their name saw a higher ranking than brands that had.

Companies that have added their location in their profile and are closer to or in the vicinity of the person performing the search are also seeing better web results.

As Google never reveals the actual weighting of any ranking element, rebalancing your efforts may be the best method to respond to this upgrade. With a lot of Google algorithm shakeups in 2021 November, it was an active and eventful month in SEO. If you were impacted by the November 2021 local search update specifically, then it should be fairly easy to determine. The local ranking changes in the Google Maps and local pack results, along with the new local interface update, may have resulted in traffic changes to your business.

As a company offering organic SEO services, we keep track of all search engine algorithmic updates or core updates and can help you prepare for them. We can help you apply best practices to improve your ranking in local search results.

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