Local Search Improvements – Google’s Vicinity Update

local search

Google recently released the biggest local search algorithm change in the last 5 years called the Vicinity Update. This shakeup has impacted business across the board, leaving some in a better position while others have suffered. 

If you have seen changes in your SEO rankings and website analytics in recent weeks, this is likely the answer to why. Google confirmed this algorithm change publicly in mid-December. They simply stated that they have rebalanced what they look at for rankings, yet the overall strategy for SEO remains the same.

Today we will walk you through the basics of what changed, how it is impacting the world of SEO, and how you can navigate this new algorithm. 


What is Google Vicinity? 

Google Vicinity is simply the name of this recent algorithm update. It is primarily about improving rankings based on proximity to the user at its core. 

In the past, the location of a particular business was taken into account for rankings. Yet, businesses could work hard to rank in nearby cities and even ones far away from them with the right strategy. 

The Vicinity Update has changed in hopes of keeping local search results more relevant for users. This has helped local businesses in the sense that they no longer have to compete with far-away businesses. On the other hand, it has hurt businesses that are operated out of homes or not in the heart of their city. 

This new update also has shaken up rankings for any businesses named using keywords. For example, business’ that used the name of a city (inappropriately) like an attorney adding “personal injury lawyer” to their business name to try to rank higher have seen their ranking fall since the update was released. Businesses that have followed Google’s guidelines and avoided keyword stuffing and the like will benefit greatly from it. 


Local 3-Pack Redesign

The Google Vicinity Update was released around the same time the new local 3-pack Redesign was released. We covered this last week on the blog, so you can read it by clicking here if you missed it. It was an update that changed the way the top Google local search results show up when a user performs a search.

This Redesign has also had ramifications in the world of SEO. These two updates coming out so close together have had businesses of all sizes and industries struggling to rebound. 


What this Means for Local Businesses

You might or might not know it, but Google has set guidelines for improving your SEO rankings. When they confirmed the Vicinity Update, they confirmed that these guidelines have not changed. As business owners and marketing professionals, it is essential that you familiarize yourself with them. 

Knowing these guidelines and sticking to them is genuinely the best course of action for you to improve your SEO. But, moving forward, you will need to stay committed to these guidelines and remember that this is a long game. SEO is not for the faint of heart and will not get magically better overnight. This is especially true as Google continues to alter and improve its algorithm in an ongoing attempt to improve its user experience. 


We hope you found this article helpful! We know that SEO can be challenging, and knowing how to navigate algorithm changes even more. If you have found your business rankings impacted by the Vicinity Update, let us know in the comments. 

If you need professional, more in-depth help in making sure you are on the right track with your SEO, know we are always here to help. Our team of experts is ready to set you up for SEO success. You can click here to learn more about our local SEO services.