Google Updates Local Services Ads Ranking Factors

Google Evolves Local Services Ads Ranking Criteria

Google has recently made a significant shift in its approach to ranking Local Services Ads by deemphasizing proximity as a primary factor in determining ad rankings. This change reflects Google’s continued efforts to improve user experience and connect searchers with the most relevant service providers.

Insight from Chris Barnard and Ginny Marvin

Local SEO Analyst Chris Barnard from Sterling Sky first brought attention to this update by highlighting a change in a Google Help Center article. In a screenshot shared on Twitter, Barnard revealed that Google had removed the section mentioning proximity as a ranking factor in local search ad placements.

Ginny Marvin, Google’s Ads Liaison, responded to Barnard’s discovery by offering clarification on the change. Marvin stated that the evolution of LSA ranking criteria has been a result of Google’s continuous learning process to determine what works best for consumers and advertisers.

Marvin emphasized that Google’s observations have shown that a business’s physical location is often not the most critical factor for users seeking local services. Instead, factors such as a customer’s search context, the specific service requested, the timing of the search, and other characteristics play a more significant role in determining relevance.

Updated Location Relevance Factors

The updated article now outlines that the relevance of a business’s location in local search ads is assessed based on various contextual factors. These factors include the nature of the customer’s search, the service or job being sought, the timing of the search, and the user’s location, among other considerations.

However, Google continues to enforce policies mandating that service providers target their ads to areas they can adequately serve from their business locations. This policy ensures that consumers are connected with local service providers who can genuinely meet their needs, preventing a negative user experience resulting from ads targeting regions far beyond a business’s service area.

Impact on Search Experience and Marketers

By shifting away from prioritizing proximity in ad rankings, Google aims to provide users with more relevant and capable service providers, aligning search results with user intent. This change grants Google’s algorithms the flexibility to surface the most suitable matches for users, improving the overall search experience and fostering better connections between searchers and local businesses.

Responding to the Change

With these adjustments in Local Services Ads ranking criteria, businesses are advised to review and update the service areas specified in their ads to accurately reflect the regions they can serve effectively. Aligning the service areas with the information on their Google Business Profile and ensuring up-to-date service offerings and availability details are essential steps to improve ad rankings and visibility in relevant local searches.

Understanding and adapting to these changes are crucial for marketers as they impact how businesses are matched with potential customers. By realigning their local service ad strategies to meet Google’s new ranking priorities, businesses can enhance their visibility and reach the right audience effectively.

Notably, businesses are restricted from targeting areas beyond their service capabilities with Local Services Ads, as Google prohibits advertising to regions that cannot realistically be serviced. This restriction aims to prevent customers from being matched with providers who are unable to meet their needs, emphasizing the importance of targeting relevant service areas for optimal ad performance.

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