Your SEO Services Guide to The Vicinity Update
In this SEO services Guide, we discuss the vicinity update. Google has always used proximity as a ranking factor in its local SEO algorithm but with the vicinity update, this has been dialled up a notch, to ensure more geographically relevant searches. In the past companies that were in an area, although far from the centroid (centre of location) would still be able to rank high on the local stack or map results but Google wants a searcher to see results that are relevant to their geographic location, only a short distance from the searcher.
The vicinity update means that compounding other local and organic signals that would ultimately skew the local ranking to a company further away from the centroid, or point Google considers to be the centre of a certain geo-location, will no longer work as effectively. If you wanted to rank in a city for example in the local stack, you would have to be as close as possible to the centroid as defined above, ceteris paribus, if the searcher is on the outskirts or just outside the area. Within an area, the closest businesses to the searcher will always win, however.
Before Vicinity Update:
After Vicinity Update:
Google also seems to have made businesses that include their keyword phrase in their business name have less weight in their local SEO rankings. It is widely accepted that having the keyword phrase or at least partially has an adding ranking benefit. We believe this is as most backlinks to a website will be the domain URL and thus carry the keyword phrase within it, others believe having the name in it is in itself a ranking factor, perhaps due to each URL then carrying the keyword phrase.
How in terms of SEO services would we work around this update?
With our SEO services, we go more niche with suburbs.
Some companies offering SEO services would suggest you widen your target to include entire cities, we suggest being more granulated and more specific and keeping it narrow, that way you would have the best chance of coming up in the three-stack as there are less competitors who would have gone niche with their local optimisation. If on the other hand, you are very close to the centroid then by all means take a broader category as this update would have helped you.
An example would be using most of your resources targeting a suburb or neighbourhood instead of the city outright if you were fairly far from where Google considers the city centre to be.
Obviously target the neighbourhood that you are in, closest to where google considers the centroid to be for that local neighbourhood.
Open a new office
Open a new office closer to the centroid, as close as possible in fact to the centre of the geographic region your keyword phrase carries. Remember to update all your citations to reflect this address change.
Remove keyword phrases from GMB listing name unless part of your business name
If you are pushing the boundaries with adding the keyword phrases in your listing name, to the point where it seems spammy, even to you, rather trim them down to the just company name and maybe just a partial match to your keyword phrase or even remove the keyword phrase altogether if the keyword phrase is too long-tail.
What does Google suggest?
Create a complete, engaging profile that is up to date and that your business is in the correct category. They do explicitly mention how to improve your local ranking and that positive quality reviews will impact your visibility, hence a three-stack ranking.
Due to the weight of the vicinity update, let’s look at what we optimise in SEO services:
Organic SEO services:
Due to the weight of the vicinity update, your site really must be optimised in all other aspects. Carrying content that carries the keyword phrases that people enter as search queries in local search is paramount.
We have always believed that organic SEO strongly influences local search results. You will see the site will say: “provides” or “their site mentions” the search query. We believe the organic content on the actual site is more important than posts on Google my business. Rather post on your blog regularly with content.
Select fewer categories and the more semantically linked those categories are the better. Be more specifically focused.
Geographical descriptor targeting with SEO services
For local SEO, generally, there is a keyword phrase with geolocation descriptor like SEO Services Cape Town. With the vicinity update, we need to become more granulated and target specific neighbourhoods or suburbs. As mentioned, if you are not close to where Google deems the centroid or central point of a specific location, then you will probably not come up in the three-stack.
Reviews for SEO services:
Google has explicitly mentioned on their Search Central blog that responding to reviews and the number of stars you have may affect your visibility. Reply to reviews whether good or bad, promptly. In addition be aware that if the searcher types in a search query with a superlative such as best, you may not rank on the three-stack should be lower in stars than competitors.
Outlinks in SEO Services:
We have seen patents where we believe google looks at outlinks as reference points, almost like a citation in a university thesis. Depending on the trust and authority scope Google views the website in will determine whether those outlinks are positive or negative in terms of ranking strength for a website. We suggest linking out to local landmark websites for areas you are targeting.
Images being published.
We believe you can get away with an initial spread of images uploaded to your GMB listing and thereafter, no longer need to keep it updated all the time unless you have new products for sale but not for any SEO function.
Citations are extremely important when it comes to local SEO services and having the best chance in the context of the vicinity update. Directories offer listings with a link to your website and if you create identical listings and publish your business data on these websites, Google uses this information as a ranking signal, in terms of the uniformity of your Name, Address, and Phone number NAP.
Use directories that rank well for themselves. The citations must come from websites that Google, at the very least, doesn’t see as link farms and trust within a normal scope.
If you are using a more granulated approach, which you should since the vicinity update, then look for suburb directories at suburb or neighbourhood level. Again, choose areas where you are closest to the centre that Google deems of a neighbourhood or suburb.
A great idea is to embed <iframe> Google provides when you share the map location of the 3-stack panel. The map should be embedded on a contact page for one location or the area-specific page for multiple locations. Just search the company name or address and then when the GMB panel comes up, go to the address and click “share”, then click the “HTML” option to copy the iframe snippet. Embed this in the raw HTML view of WordPress and then update.
Name, Address, Phone. You should also list the name, address, and phone number exactly as it occurs on the specific locations GMB panel above or below the iframe.
If you want to go the extra mile you can use structured data to mark up the location, type of business, and services in addition to the optimisations above. This just further compounds signals and again offers the weight of the vicinity update as much as possible.
Go to Schema.org to see the different mark-up options. Ensure you place this in the “head” section of the HTML or your page, the same spot where you would add Google analytics.
Local User Intent for SEO services:
Always remember that local is usually skewed towards mobile searches, as local usually means you want to physically go to the brick and mortar store. It always means that user is deeper in their buying cycle and thus your content should be aligned with a deeper buying cycle intent.
This content should be seen as deeper in your funnel. The user has already decided that they want to walk into the store or business, so ensure that content is straight to the value proposition and offers high conversion potential.
Upside down triangle approach in SEO services
As the user is deeper in their buying cycle or has more conversion intent when conducting local searches, we need to ensure that they find the most pertinent information to first to allow for a greater propensity to convert. We do this by using the inverted triangle approach modern journalists use for digital news articles.
Divide the length of your article into roughly three. Start with an enticing headline that is optimised correctly for SEO. This should offer the value proposition of the entire article. Then for the first section, elaborate on what the user will gain from reading the article and the key outline of the entire article summarised and its value proposition.
Next, look at key supporting information of the main value proposition outlined in the first section. This could be case study elaboration.
The final section would be generally supporting information, where you can include the information less relevant for a time when the reader has more time to read the article at length. It’s important to understand that people skim-read first, before they decide to invest their valuable time and attention into the minutes that the article needs to be read, especially if they’re looking for a local brick and mortar business.
Your content is multitasking here, it must give the local searcher the most pertinent information as they are on a narrow mobile device, and screen reading is thus more of a challenge and we need to ensure that for SEO purposes, Google knows what the article is about.
Conclusion to the SEO Services Guide To The Vicinity Update
The vicinity update has given the geographic location signal a far stronger weight in the set of signals that algorithms look for. As a result, we must use other signals to give us the best chance of coming up on the map when we are not as close as the competitors to where Google deems the centroid of the central point of an area. Don’t forget traditional organic SEO here, as often a map result will state: “their website mentions …”
We can also use more analogue strategies such as moving our office closer to the centroid. Google ultimately wants to provide a result that is relative to the searcher geographically and the updates going forward will most probably be within this same line of improvement. Be the best possible search result for the client and be closest to the centroid for searchers searching outside the area.