Google announced the completion of their November 2021 local search update rollout. The update started rolling out on November 30th and ran till December 8th. Several SEOs have noticed these fluctuations in local search results during this time period.
This update is global and involves the rebalancing of various factors that Google considers when generating local search results.
Google’s Official Announcement
Google took to Twitter to announce their November 2021 local search update has now concluded. And they have linked to their local SEO document to help improve local rankings.
While there was no announcement from Google at the time of rollout, Google’s Danny Sullivan clarified that they always have a lot of updates, and they announce only the updates that are most likely to have a noticeable effect on the users. In this case, Google has missed announcing the rollout of this update.
Our November 2021 local search update has concluded. It began Nov 30 and ran through Dec 8. It involved a rebalancing of various factors we consider in generating local search results. General guidance for businesses remains the same as covered here: https://t.co/uyXFfmUEIR
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 16, 2021
What Are People Saying?
Many businesses have noticed the fluctuations in SERPs. Local SERP tracking tool Local RankFlux had been reporting high volatility in local search results for the past few weeks. And Joy Hawkins, a local SEO expert, observed that map packs have shrunk and are now displaying a variety of businesses, many of which were invisible earlier.
This goes some way to explain the significant upheavals in local rankings we’ve recorded in Local RankFlux the past few weeks. @SterlingSkyInc have some great insights into what might be going on: https://t.co/969v7uvKIJ
— BrightLocal (@brightlocal) December 16, 2021
This corresponds to the recent change by Google to its local map pack layout, which now appears on the right side of the screen and has a square layout instead of the rectangular layout.
— Barry Schwartz (@rustybrick) December 7, 2021
What’s Next – Dealing With This Update
Google has now rebalanced its ranking factors for local search results. However, we’ll not be able to identify the weightage of each factor. As stated in Google’s local SEO document, the search engine considers the following factors while ranking for local search queries:
- Relevance – how well a local Business Profile matches what someone is searching for
- Distance – how far each potential search result is from the location term used in a search.
- Prominence – how well known a business is. Google’s review count and review score will also have their weightage here.
If your local search rankings are negatively affected by this update, it’s worth looking at your site’s optimization for local search results, and we’ve got a detailed guide to help you with it.