It may only be the start of December 2019, Black Friday barely out of the way, and we are already seeing signs of a potential Google algorithm update. Perhaps they are giving us a late Cyber Monday gift? Sensors this morning (3rd Dec) have begun to pick up early signs of SERP volatility, scores of 4.4/10 and 5.2/10 being recorded in the UK for desktop and mobile viewports respectively.
There is currently low level chat throughout various SEO communities such as WebmasterWorld of ‘significant volatility’. SERP movement also appears to be evident in various European locations such as Spain and Germany, although this does not appear to be the case in the US. Perhaps Google is testing updates throughout Europe before rolling them out further? As ever, we will continue to monitor the situation and see.
Sensors Showing Signs of Search Volatility December 11th 2019
December 11th 2019 is showing signs of search volatility on both mobile and desktop view ports throughout the UK with scores of 5.9 and 6.5 recorded. Chatter throughout the SEO community is speaking of organic traffic fluctuations, although not necessarily keyword ranking shifts. Because of this there has been some speculation as to whether these dramatic traffic fluctuations are actually in fact being caused by a Google Analytics bug. However, with the volatility seen throughout the 11th Dec this would appear to support some form of minor Google algorithm update at the very least. From our end we are not seeing any major fluctuations from both a ranking or traffic perspective. We will continue to monitor the situation.
Google’s November 2019 Local Search Update
In early November 2019, Google rolled out updates that began to make use of neural matching to allow them to better generate local results (hence the name). This allows them to better understand the content and context of search queries and ultimately provide better search results to users locally. Covering countries and languages worldwide this certainly has the potential to be massive. The Google SearchLiaison team have confirmed how it enables them to go beyond exact words in the business name and description, allowing better understanding of search terms:
In early November, we began making use of neural matching as part of the process of generating local search results. Neural matching allows us to better understand how words are related to concepts, as explained more here: https://t.co/ShQm7g9CvN
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) December 2, 2019
As expected this local search update brought about big implications. Despite sensors appearing to show a lack of search volatility, some sites took massive hits with their ranking keywords and traffic plummeting. This image below provides an example of one site taking a quite significant hit with the local search update:
With some speculation this update also paid attention to link quality, long term implications could be significant. A lot of recent updates are focusing upon the quality of content and unnatural looking link building tactics, if you do not give Google a reason to penalise you then surely they will not?
The Importance of Local SEO
With an ever growing emphasis on search intent and context in local SEO, the image and reputation of your business plays a more important role than ever. Google My Business provides you with an excellent opportunity to grow your presence locally, immediately informing users of your business capabilities while also providing image and review options. Although separate and not related, this does tie in with the recent BERT update in terms of search context, understanding and using terms how a human would.
If your site has been hit by the recent local search update, contact the local SEO experts here at USDigital for a free site audit.Free SEO Audit