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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Google updates local search criteria, emphasising business hours

Google's local search now prioritises business operating hours, affecting visibility in local search results and highlighting the importance of up-to-date business hours.

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Recent developments in search engine optimisation () have revealed that is now giving more weight to the operating hours of businesses in its local search rankings. This change, noted after the November 2023 core update, means that businesses marked as closed are less likely to appear in local search results.

Enhanced importance of ‘openness' in local search rankings

Google's Search Liaison has confirmed that a business's open or closed status, referred to as “openness,” has become a more influential factor in local search algorithms. This change primarily affects searches not looking for a specific business (non-navigational queries). The search giant has always considered a business's operating hours but has recently heightened its impact on search rankings. However, Google notes that this could evolve as they assess its effectiveness.

Defining non-navigational queries

The clarification about ‘openness' led to queries about what constitutes a non-navigational search. If you're looking for a specific business by name, that's a navigational query. In contrast, searching for a type of service or product without specifying a business falls into the non-navigational category.

Potential issues with the emphasis on ‘openness'

Sherry Bonelli raised concerns in a discussion that some businesses might list themselves as open 24/7 to improve their search visibility. Such practices could mislead customers, resulting in a negative experience if they visit outside actual operating hours. Google has responded to these concerns, advising businesses against falsely inflating their hours, as the ‘openness' ranking factor is subject to continuous refinement.

Best practices for businesses on Google

To maximise their visibility in local searches, businesses should keep their operational hours up-to-date on their Google Business Profiles. This is particularly important during the holiday when accurate hours can minimise customer frustration and enhance business visibility. Keeping up-to-date hours is essential for customer convenience and a strategic move to outshine competitors who might be closed.

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Nurin Sofia
Nurin Sofia
Nurin Sofia is a news editor at Tech Edition. Her interest is in technology and startups, occasionally crunching news for gaming. Sofia enjoys playing video games, going on bike rides, and gardening when she isn't behind a keyboard.

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