Local Business Ranking System Update December 2023, Openness a Ranking Factor

I was witnessing a very deep conversation on X recently on Google My Business page issues many owners and SEOs are facing. The conversation was between Joyanne Hawkins, GMB product expert, and Search Liaison’s John Mueller. So, the conversation had to have some real juice in it. A recent case study shared on X showed that a business’s ranking was super volatile every day. As usual, as an SEO it is a tough job to find out what’s exactly going wrong when you did almost everything right. This conversation sheds light on that topic.

Joy Hawkins posted that “the new ranking factor we are seeing that has a massive impact on the ranking is HOURS” on X. In that, she posted a ranking-calender type of image where a business ranking in several times and then suddenly dropped to zero traffic.

Google my business ranking signals
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On the left side of the image, you’ll see a red alert in almost all businesses at night as most of them were closed. Whether, on the right side, or at the time of their opening hours all of them are ranked somewhere.

Hawkins wrote, “We’re seeing that businesses vanish in the local pack when they are not open. We started seeing this with the November 2023 core update. This is also making temporarily closed listings not rank.” As this update is not helpful for every industry, she asked Danny Sullivan to look into it.

John Mueller from Google’s Search Liaison said on the thread that the issue will be passed on to the core team. He thought it had a link with the recent November core update Google launched.

John mentioned it has some connection with “Openness” as part of Google’s local ranking systems, and it recently became a stronger signal for non-navigational queries.

Let me simplify this.

If a business opens from 10 AM to 7 PM and shuts down at 7 o’clock, then it has lesser or no chance to appear for a non-navigational search at 8;30 PM. What’s a navigational local search then?

Well, when someone directly searches with the business or brand name, that is known as a ‘Navigational Search’. When someone searches with a generic term that is related to that business, is known as a ‘Non-Navigational Search’.

Such as a search term – ‘personal injury lawyer or plumber’ may be counted as a non-navigational search whereas a search term – ‘Walmart’ or ‘McDonald’s’ may be termed a navigational search.

Users can still find a business by navigational search anytime. But for a non-navigational search, “Openness” is the new ranking factor this December in local SEO.

The Author

Shekhar Chatterjee

Shekhar Chatterjee has an experience over a decade in this field and he just loves this job of a "Mix" of SEO and Journalism to make people aware of what's happening in the field of search engine marketing. He currently working with Hoichoi TV as an SEO Manager and is dedicated to sharing News and tips that other SEOs are paying thousands of $ for.

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