How does Google’s local algorithm work in 2016?

Written by: Jason Bayless | December 01, 2016
Business owners large and small count on search engines to generate traffic to their websites in order to gain potential customers. The number of people who see a business ad, blog or other content online and are compelled to visit the site is determined by a number of factors. Everyone knows that the biggest player in town when it comes to search engines is Google. Therefore, it makes sense that mastering Google algorithm and research can help webmasters raise their clients in the rankings. What web professionals are now starting to realize is the importance of understanding the ways in which local business can utilize search engine optimization to their advantage. Because this is constantly changing, it’s important to stay up to date so that your site can advance and avoid being penalized by Google. Read on to learn the ways in which Google’s local algorithm works in 2016.

General Tips

Let’s take a look at some of the more common tips you should know regarding Google’s algorithm. Findings from prominent SEO experts have gained a great deal of insight into the workings of Google and how factors such as links, keywords and citations play a role in a website’s local ranking potential. You probably know that quality links are essential to achieving a coveted spot in the search engines. Surprisingly, it seems that positive ranking links have been shown to correlate highly with the use of Google’s ToolBar PageRank. Because it’s been quite some time since this application has been updated, the primary implication of this finding is that older links tend to perform better.

When it comes to the use of citations, old advice suggesting that use of citations in websites significantly improved SEO performance may actually be outdated. Existing citations no longer seem to move sites up the rankings. However, it is still wise to fix citation problems like duplicates or inconsistencies, as these efforts can have a positive impact. Website content also plays an important role in Google’s algorithm for ranking success. It’s still important to use target keywords strategically. This remains a constant. However, best practices now indicate that websites with more content do better locally in search engines than those with less. Finally, don’t neglect your Google My Business page. Be sure your page is verified and that it contains plenty of photos, reviews and information. Complete profiles and full pages do well in rankings.

Unexpected Insight

It’s not unusual to discover new and surprising insights when beginning to use a new system. This is definitely true with Google’s new algorithm. There are a few factors that may be unexpected for general users and web professionals alike. For example, regarding Google My Business, it has come to light that the inclusion of your company’s city and state within the title of your page has no significant impact on page rankings. You still may wish to include them in order to differentiate your business from another, but it may not be necessary if your business name stands out on its own. What will help your Google My Business page ranking is to include a strategic keyword in the title. Unfortunately, this also works well for spam accounts, but it will help your company’s profile to be seen.

Summary of Findings

These findings and occurrences seem to indicate that Google’s algorithm in 2016 has a great deal more influence on local SEO than in the past. Having a content-rich website with strategically targeted and placed links will get you far when it comes to search engine rankings. Clean up your citations, but don’t spend a great deal of time on them. Instead, focus on your Google My Business page by adding photographs, descriptions and encouraging users to leave reviews. These actions will give you a bigger return on your time investment.

The important role of Google seems only to be gaining influence. Learning the new rules of Google’s algorithm in 2016 is crucial to ensuring you gain visibility for your website or maintain your current standing.