What Is The Vicinity Update?
On November 30th, 2021, Google released an algorithm update that changed a lot in the Google My Business world. This update has now been deemed the “Vicinity Update”. The Vicinity Update affected profile rankings on searches that came from outside of their business address radius, as well as affected companies with no physical address.
The vicinity update also came with a change to the name of the platform from “Google My Business” to “Google Business Profile”. This is the 6th time Google has changed the name.
Before Google My Business was the return of Google Places, and before that it was Google+ Local. Prior to that, Google Places made its first showing, and that’s how we come back to the original name: Google Local (no “+”). Needless to say, Google loves to switch it up.
This name update came with some new, in-platform features that we were able to access right away. These features included:
- Claiming and verifying your Google Business Profile directly in Google Search and Google Maps
- Call History officially launching in US and Canada
- Messaging that can be done directly from Google Search
- Message read receipts that can be controlled in Google Search and Maps
On top of these features being added, Google also seemed to change the algorithm for local map packs. The biggest change we noticed was the proximity rankings. The purpose of proximity rankings is for your business profile to appear on Google Maps depending on where a user is located. There are specific ways that we optimize your profile for this to happen.
Google seemed to have prioritized vicinity over all factors and this is why many businesses in service industries that don’t have a physical address OR companies that service a different location than their address saw a big drop in rankings from November to December.
How The Proximity Update Affected Our Clients
What did this update do for the local search algorithm? That is the real question here, since many businesses have seen an immediate impact on their profile since November, and most of it was negative. (KOP example)
Here we see a business we service with no physical location, just a service area. The above rankings show the timeline from November 2021 to December 2021. You can see (particularly in the middle dots) how much loss we saw in just one month. Two dots went from ranking 5th and 3rd to now ranking 20+. These are some of the immediate results of the new algorithm brought to this profile and others like it. Overall, these changes weren’t drastic on a small scale.
On a larger scale, we can see a significant difference in rankings outside of this specific business’s address. This was the major affect the Vicinity Update had on solid businesses that had been ranking very well regardless of location of address.
How To Optimize Your Local SEO Efforts To Take Advantage of This Update
To reach all corners of your service area, you will need to work from the inside out to get results. The good news is that everyone has been affected – if your rankings have seen negative effects, you are not alone. Now, the question becomes, how do we take advantage of this?
We start with finding the neighborhoods in the service areas we are not ranking well. These neighborhoods are where we start with creating content revolving around them. Photos of your business providing services in those neighborhoods and creating services and products on your GBP that mention those neighborhoods.
Another useful tip is creating a local neighborhood page for your website. These few tips can help Google crawl your site and give authority to you providing services in these areas and hopefully show impact on your rankings.
If you have tried these tips and are still looking for Google Business Profile help, please reach out to us and we would be happy to help. Blackhawk provides a full suite of digital marketing services, including Google Business Profile setup, optimization, and management. Contact us today to get started.