If you’ve noticed significant changes in Google’s rankings for your local business, you’re not alone. Google recently confirmed they have completed Vicinity, the biggest local listings update in over five years. According to their official announcement, Vicinity includes a “rebalancing of various factors we consider in generating local search results.”
Unlike updates such as Panda, Penguin, Hawk, and Mum, Vicinity has a name that actually tells you what is does. With Vicinity, user proximity is now weighted much higher, making it harder to rank for local searches when you aren’t nearby – giving valid local businesses a better chance of coming up in SERPs.
The other major change is that keyword stuffing your law firm name and your domain name won’t boost your rankings like it used to.
The Vicinity update was conducted between November 30 and December 8, 2021. It caused huge fluctuations in rankings across a wide range of competitive industries, particularly sites dedicated to lawyers, dentists, home services, and the insurance industry.
Location, Location, Location
According to Google, search Relevance, business Prominence, and Proximity to users are the three main priorities when creating the algorithms that govern local searches. SEOs have long argued that proximity was an underweighted ranking factor. This allowed many companies to rank high in local searches when they weren’t really local businesses. Vicinity is supposed to change all that.
Local Google searches may have devalued location in the past, but large businesses with strong SEO can’t avoid the proximity factor any longer. This is giving more local businesses a chance to rank higher. It also helps boost rankings for secondary locations of prominent businesses that are located closer to users.
No More Keyword Stuffing
Businesses that rely heavily on keyword stuffing in their firm names and domain names have seen a significant decline in GMB traffic since the Vicinity update. This is a welcomed change for people who follow the rules. Vicinity is also said to reduce the number of fake listings that show up in searches.
Businesses with keyword-rich names are seeing a big drop in the number of terms they rank for. Firms used to be able to dominate a specific type of law by using a practice name, domain name, and content that’s tightly constructed around specific keywords. But since the Vicinity update, these firms have experienced a significant decline in their overall rankings.
What Vicinity Means for You
Google says that user benefit is the number one priority for all updates. Vicinity will certainly make it easier for users to find local businesses that are providing services they are seeking. The update will also benefit newer businesses and people who are following Google’s guidelines.
Finding a marketing team that utilizes strong, above-board SEO strategies is more important than ever thanks to Vicinity. And providing a good User Experience (UX) will continue to bring positive search results.
You can strengthen your Google Business Profile (GBP) (the new name for GMB listings) by taking the following steps:
- Verify your location
- Maintain accurate operating hours
- Respond to Google reviews
- Add photos
- Regularly add content to your listing
- Make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) are consistent across all platforms
Get to the Top of SERPs and Stay There with SLS
SEO is an incredibly dynamic field, especially in the legal field. Things that worked last year don’t always work today. Our team at SLS Consulting, Inc. will always keep up with the game so we can anticipate what’s coming next. Our clients did not suffer at the hands of Vicinity. We use only white hat techniques and strategies to get our clients ranked at the top of SERPs.
Call SLS Consulting, Inc., at (323) 745-1806 for a FREE consultation today. We know SEO.
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