The November 2021 Local Search Update: What Is the ‘Vicinity’ Update?

november 2021 local search update
It looks like Google is a firm believer in the “New Year, New Me” mantra. Google ended 2021 strong, releasing updates for several of its services that will change how businesses use these features in the New Year (or at least until the next update).
After making the switch from Google My Business to Google Business Profile in early November, Google then proceeded to run a local search ranking update between November 30th and December 8th—the November 2021 local search update or ‘vicinity’ update.

What Changed with the November 2021 Local Search Update?

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that the ‘vicinity’ update is the biggest update in local search from Google since 2017—when the ‘Hawk’ local algorithm update happened. In both cases, marketing experts agree that the updates had been long overdue.
In this most recent November update, Google announced that it has “rebalanced” the various factors contributing to the algorithm where local search results are concerned. Distance seems to be playing a larger role in local rankings now, while relevance seems to have declined as a ranking factor.
This means that the physical distance between a business location and a Google search user now has more weight when deciding where to place that business in the list of local search results. We believe this will help both businesses and their clients—but not all businesses alike.
The other major change of the algorithm is the importance of keywords in a business name. After many years of giving a bit too much credence to this aspect, Google is now giving a fighting chance to small businesses—and penalizing companies that use irrelevant keywords in their name.

Who Is Affected by the Recent Local Search Update?

Large and small businesses, alike have seen (and will continue to see) changes in rankings after the November 2021 update. Because of the algorithm change concerning the use of keywords in business names, companies who took advantage of the previous trends and added keywords to their names are now seeing a decrease in rankings—while competitors see a boost in theirs.
Local businesses are also at an advantage after the recent update: Local search results will favor companies that are closer to the person performing the search, provided that the company has correctly added its primary location to its profile. Some suggest that this impacted proximity could help local business compete with more prominent businesses and/or help equalize relevance in map packs.

How Can I Make the Most Out of the ‘Vicinity’ Update?

To improve your local search rankings, the most important rule (as always) is to make sure you follow Google’s guidelines. The general guidance for businesses remains the same even after the November 2021 local search update and can be found here.
Here’s a quick refresher. Keep your Google business profile up to date, including your primary and secondary locations as well as other relevant information. This will increase your chances of showing up in local searches as users go about generating local search results in their regular day-to-day. All the updates Google is performing have essentially the same purpose: to become more and more useful for its users.
Therefore, any effort you make towards optimizing your online presence for your potential customers will speak volumes to Google, and will significantly increase your rankings in local results. Remember, customer-friendly also means Google-friendly in this digital era!

A Little Help from the Experts

Potential customers are already looking for products and services just like yours. If managing your online presence and keeping up with all the updates Google is releasing seems daunting, that doesn’t mean you should neglect or overlook them.
Instead, you can get in touch with our team of marketing experts, and let us help you get the most out of your online presence. We are continually tracking the latest changes and best practices so we can take your business to the next level and keep you ahead of the competition! Contact Uptick Marketing today.

About Lance

For nearly a decade, Lance has worked with Uptick in search engine optimization in some capacity, initially building our SEO department from the ground up. His expertise in the world of optimization makes him the ideal person to keep Uptick on the cutting edge of the ever-evolving SEO sphere. A graduate of Samford University, Lance is a member of Samford University’s Entrepreneurship, Management, and Marketing Advisory Board, creating the university’s first digital marketing course. He has spoken at the Birmingham chapter of the American Marketing Association, co-hosted ‘Grow With Google’ small business events, and presented to the Birmingham and Huntsville chapters of the Public Relations Council of Alabama. Currently, he spearheads Uptick’s SEO sales, business development, and overall strategies.

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