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Google changes how local service ads are ranked

Google updates Local Services Ads ranking to focus less on proximity and more on relevance, ensuring better matches for local service providers.

has recently clarified that the proximity of a business to a searcher is no longer a primary factor in how Local Services Ads (LSA) are ranked. This change reflects Google's evolving understanding of what is relevant to users when they search for local service providers.

Chris Barnard, a local analyst at Sterling Sky, sparked the discussion by pointing out an update to a Google Help Centre article. In his post, Barnard shared a screenshot highlighting that Google had removed the section that previously stated that proximity was a factor in local search ad rankings.

Ginny Marvin, Google's Ads Liaison, responded to the discussion to clarify the change. Marvin stated, “LSA ranking has evolved over time as we have learned what works best for consumers and advertisers. We've seen that the proximity of a business' location is often not a key indicator of relevancy. For example, the physical location of a home cleaning business matters less to potential customers than whether their home is located within the business' service area.”

Marvin emphasised that this was not a sudden change but rather an update to “more accurately reflect these ranking considerations” based on Google's learnings. The updated article now states that location relevance factors include the context of a customer's search, the service or job a customer is searching for, the time of the search, the location, and other characteristics.

Despite the shift in ranking factors, Google maintains policies that require service providers to limit their ad targeting to areas they can realistically serve from their business locations. Marvin reiterated Google's stance, citing that “local services strive to connect consumers with local service providers. Targeting your ads to areas that are far from your business location and/or that you can't reasonably serve creates a negative and potentially confusing experience for consumers.”

By de-emphasising proximity, Google is giving its ad-serving algorithms more flexibility to surface the most relevant and capable providers. This approach aims to better match user intent and connect searchers with companies that can realistically service their location.

What businesses should do in response

With the recent changes to how Google ranks local services ads, businesses should update the service areas listed for their ads to reflect the regions in which they can realistically provide services. Ensuring that the service areas match what is listed on their Google Business Profile is crucial. Additionally, companies should keep their service offerings and availability information up-to-date, as these are other key factors that will impact how well their local service ads rank and show up for relevant local searches.

Importance for marketers

Understanding the changes to local services ad rankings is vital for marketers. These changes affect how businesses get matched with potential customers. Google no longer heavily prioritises proximity when ranking local service ads, instead focusing more on other relevant factors. By understanding this shift, businesses can update their local service ad strategies to optimise for Google's new priorities and get their ads in front of the right audience.

Can you still target distant areas?

No, Google does not allow businesses to target areas they cannot realistically service. This policy prevents customers from being matched with providers who are too far away to help them. Businesses can only advertise in areas close to their location or within their defined service areas.

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Emma Job
Emma Job
Emma is a freelance news editor at Tech Edition. With a decade's experience in content writing, she revels in both crafting and immersing herself in narratives. From tracking down viral trends to delving into the most recent news stories, her goal is to deliver insightful and timely content to her readers.

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