Conor at Google Headquarters in California - Local Maps Search Car

November 2019 Google Local Update Confirmed

It’s been an interesting past 30 days watching the various listing on maps and search positions move up and down. What was first reported as “The Bedlam Update” by Joy Hawkins in Mid-November, has now been confirmed by Google that there was indeed an update to the Local Search Results.

We’ll be digging into what we know, what we saw, and what Google has confirmed to have happened during this recent update of Local Search Positions in the November 2019 Google Local Update.

Around the beginning of November, Google made a number of changes and it resulted in a dramatic drop of ranking positions, but mainly confined itself to the map positions. By the 2nd week of November, Google had also impacted the Local Search results in a normal query too, not just the maps.

The Google BERT Algorithm Update Strikes Again!

Remember in October we were talking about the BERT algorithm (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers)? Essentially this was an update that Google made that allowed the search engines to understand more clearly the user intent of searches. Instead of just focusing on the one or two word around a keyword, it was now taking the entire structure of a sentence and returning better results.

From what we can tell, the updates made in November for the Google Local Update seem to be in line with the BERT changes previously rolled out. The update, as documented by others, appears to be focused more on the relevancy of phrases and businesses, than the proximity of the business.  This could be a great thing, for most business listings!

Here's a Segment From Our Facebook Live Explaining BERT

What Google Has Said About The November Update

"In early November, we began making use of neural matching as part of the process of generating local search results."

Google - Twitter

Google posted the above on December 2, 2019 via a tweet. They confirmed the update and then expanded a little further on the “Neural Matching” aspect of things. Essentially, in 2018 Google started using an AI-based system to understand how words are related to concepts. This is similar to how the BERT Algorithm Update operates.

The update for November 2019 was the implementation of the Neural Matching for Local Search Results.

What Should We Change On The Websites?

As with all updates and comments made by Google, we always ask “What can we change to make sure we don’t get demoted?” And pretty much every time, Google responds with the same blanket statement of “There is Nothing To Update”.  The November update was no different, albeit the wording was changed a little; “Those looking to succeed should continue to follow the fundamental advice we offer here: https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091” So there you go, nothing to see here, move along 😉 No actually, there’s plenty to change, or rather review. You must review what your website says about you, what you’re saying in your Google My Business listing, and ensure that you’re sending the right message to those that are searching for your business or product. It all comes down to content.

Neural Matching - not BERT

The November 2019 update to Local Search was a Global Release. Often times we see updates from Google rolling out in sections, or rolling out to specific countries. In this case, the update impacted more than just the U.S. regions – all countries and all languages that Google is available in.  That’s a pretty big update!

The thing to keep in mind is that this is the “Neural Matching” part of the algorithm. It’s similar to how BERT or even RankBrain operates but at the same time, the fundamental change is synonyms.  Google’s Danny Sullivan referred to the neural matching as “a super synonym system.

What Are The Suggestions From Big Red SEO?

The search results returned to a user query has always been, and will likely continue to always be, about content. This particular update is no different.

When we work with clients we review various aspects of their websites when we perform a website audit, and one of the things we pay close attention to, aside from code structure, is the content on the pages.

When you write text on your website, you must take into consideration the keywords or key-phrases that you’re wanting to rank for. We’re not suggesting full on manipulation of results, after all, traffic to your site is useless if it’s the wrong person arriving at your site!

Within your content, Google can interchange phrases or synonyms to return the best results to the end user. The best way to get ahead of this however would be for your content to include much of the synonyms already. 

Show Me An Example

Google trying to understand synonyms is a big part of how the website rankings actually work.  

For example, Danny Sullivan posted back in September 2018 regarding the synonyms for the word “change” in the eyes of how Google interprets them;

  • “how to change brightness on a laptop” – could be “adjust”
  • “how do I change a PDF into a word doc” – could be “convert”
  • “how do I change memory on a laptop” – could be “install”
  • “how to change a light bulb” – could be “replace” or “install”

Over the years, Google has been using various updates to help understand what the user intent actually is, and with BERT and now the Neural Matching, they have a clearer view on what information people are actually searching for.

Contact Big Red SEO - Located in Omaha Nebraska

Keeping up with the various changes that Google and Bing issue during the year is one of the things that sets Big Red SEO apart from others. We spend hours every week going through various forums, tweets, announcements and events related to the various updates. As a small business owner, you generally wouldn’t have time to keep up with everything yourself when it comes to SEO. That’s where Big Red SEO comes in.

We are an extension of your team, your online marketing team. We keep up with the search engine news and implement strategies to adapt and change within your website.

When you’re looking for your next part of the marketing team, give us a call. We’d love to show you where we can help and how we can assist in improving your overall website rankings and visual image to your intended audience – (402) 522-6468.

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