Imarc

Google's latest updates: Your questions answered

Angela Bianchi, Digital Marketing Consultant
Posted on Dec 21, 2021

On December 8, 2021, Google completed the rollout of its new November 2021 local search update along with its broad core algorithm update. Some websites are already seeing the impact on traffic and ranking. We answer some of your biggest questions, including what these updates mean for you.

On November 17, 2021, Google announced the release of a broad core algorithm update, as it does several times a year. While the update does not target anything specific, it does reexamine content and is known to cause dramatic spikes and drops in traffic. Later, on December 8, 2021, Google confirmed the rollout of what they are calling the November 2021 local search update. The goal of this update is to rebalance the weight given to ranking factors that Google uses for local search.

Your top 10 Google update questions answered:

What should I do in response to Google’s new broad core algorithm update?
What is high-quality content?

What should I do in response to Google’s November 2021 local search update?

What are local search best practices?

What are local search ranking factors?

Was I affected by the local search update?

Why am I dropping in Google rankings?

What should you do if you have been impacted by this update?

What is coming next?

How do I get started?

What should I do in response to Google’s new broad core algorithm update?

The goal of the core update is to improve Google’s search algorithms and systems. Google wants to ensure that it’s consistently providing relevant and authoritative content to users. The best way to deal with the algorithm update is to provide very high-quality content that is helpful and fully meet users’ needs.

What is high-quality content?

Content should be original and provide useful insights. Google uses E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) to determine quality. Google has provided recommendations on how to self-assess the quality of your content. Their guidance and specific questions to consider include:

  • Does your content genuinely meet a need?

  • Is the author an expert on the topic?

  • Is the material trustworthy?

  • Would you share it with a friend?

  • Does your content serve the purpose of the intended user?

What should I do in response to Google’s November 2021 local search update?

Google recommends continuing to follow best practices for local search as the best way to respond to the local search update.

What are local search best practices?

Google recommends these five best practices for local search:

  1. Enter complete data for your business, including a physical address, phone number, category, and attributes. Regularly update your business profile.

  2. Verify business locations.

  3. Keep hours up to date, including any changes around holidays and special events.

  4. Manage and respond to reviews.

  5. Add accurate photos. Photos should tell a story about your business and provide a true representation of what your business looks like and what it offers.

What are local search ranking factors?

Google uses relevance, distance, and prominence as ranking factors in local search.

Relevance refers to how well a business profile matches a users’ query. Adding complete and detailed information about your business is going to help Google understand what goods and services you provide.

Distance is determined by how far a business is from the location used in the search. If a user does not provide a location in their query, Google calculates the distance based on what it knows about the user’s location.

Prominence is based on how well-known a business is. This can be calculated based on the number of reviews and ratings, or other information from the web like links, articles, and directories.

Was I affected by the local search update?

If your website has been impacted by the local search update, you will see it in the ranking of your business in Google Local Pack. A Google Local Pack is a group of three local business listings that appears in response to search queries for products or services provided by local businesses. They originate from the Google My Business directory.

Why am I dropping in Google rankings?

If you notice a drop in rankings, you are not being penalized. Rather, your content is being reevaluated against other new content that has been published across the web. Websites that experience a decrease in traffic and/or rankings might not recover from an algorithm update until the next update is released. Improvements, while encouraged, do not guarantee recovery.

What should I do if I have been impacted by the local search update?

If you’ve been impacted by the update, it is recommended that you refocus your Google Business Profile strategy. Google does not release the exact weight given to each ranking factor. So, If you have been working on earning more reviews, perhaps shift to working on relevance by updating information in your Business Profile so that Google has a better understanding of your business.

What is coming next?

Google has made no secret of its efforts to provide a better user experience on the web overall. Their Core Web Vitals initiative is forcing websites to focus on performance and to make improvements to achieve defined goals for page speed, loading time, and visual stability. Likewise, their quality rater guidelines and emphasis on E-A-T are pushing creators to produce better quality content. Keywords and mobile optimization are still important but expect to see more focus on user experience.

How do I get started?

Feeling overwhelmed by these new updates? Imarc’s Digital Marketing team is here to support you through this and any other updates Google throws at us in the future. Let’s talk!

More Thoughts
7 lessons in teamwork from the trails
Be the change