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Google recently announced that it has rolled out an update to the map pack and local search results. This update began on November 30th and was finished on December 8th. Sterling Sky has named this update “Vicinity,” and it has caused a widespread ranking disruption. It is the largest change to the local algorithm since the 2016 Possum update.

What is the Vicinity Update?

The name of this update comes from the fact that it primarily targets proximity as a ranking factor. While proximity has been an important signal for local search results, it has also been shown that businesses can optimize to successfully rank far away from their actual business location.

With the Vicinity update, Google seems to be restricting this, which will help to make local search results more relevant for users. This will also benefit businesses by giving them a better chance at ranking well in relevant local searches, with less competition from businesses that are far away.

It also appears to be rewarding businesses that have followed the listing guidelines and decreasing rankings of businesses that practice keyword stuffing. This will likely result in a win for businesses that have consistently followed Google’s guidelines regarding keyword stuffing and those who have taken the time to fight spam.

How Does Vicinity Affect Local Business Owners?

When Google tweeted to confirm this change, they also said, “General guidance for businesses remains the same.” Additionally, they provided a link to guidelines for improving local rankings, which explain that Google’s algorithm determines results based on distance, relevance, and prominence.

Within these guidelines, Google suggests that business owners do the following to boost their visibility:

  • Enter complete data
  • Keep opening hours accurate
  • Verify their location
  • Manage and respond to all reviews
  • Add business photos

If you feel that you have been impacted by the Vicinity update or need assistance with your Google My Business Listing, contact the experts at Higher Images today! We can help y navigate this update and optimize your business listing to improve your rankings.