Google Rewards “Openness” in Local Search: What Business Should Do

Adam Dorfman

Publishing accurate location information on Google remains crucial for businesses looking to enhance their local search rankings. Google recently underlined the importance of sharing accurate location information by changing its algorithm to rank businesses that are open more often in its local search rankings higher than businesses that are closed. This is an important change especially coming at a time when many locations change their hours of operation during the holidays. 

Google Rewards “Openness” as a Local Ranking Factor

Search practitioner Joy Hawkins first reported on X, formerly known as Twitter, that following a November Google algorithm update, businesses were vanishing from local pack search results when they were closed:

Previously, Google would list a business in a local search even if that location was closed at the time the search was made. Now, Google is boosting visibility in search results for businesses that are open. The change has since been confirmed by Google

This is true for both navigational searches (where the intent to find a location is clear) and non-navigational (when someone is searching for types of services versus specific brands).

Why Is “Openness” a More Important Local Ranking Factor?

Google remains committed to providing the best user experience possible to anyone who uses its products, including Google Search, which is core to the Google ecosystem. Google remains far and away the dominant player in search. As Reputation has reported, Google Search time and again is an important tool for consumers searching for every type of business ranging from retailers to hospitals. Google needs to defend its turf. Making search more useful by serving up the most accurate search results possible is part of that strategy. 

Locations such as automotive dealerships and large retailers have always offered services with hours that differ (a pharmacy inside a Walmart or Target might be closed even though Walmart or Target is open for shopping). In addition, many businesses, especially since the pandemic, have experienced myriad factors such as staffing shortages affecting their hours of operation from one location to the next. (In 2020, as many businesses began to operate variable hours for drive-through, walk-in, and other options to cater to rapidly changing shopping habits, Google began to adapt by giving users new types of business hours to reflect this reality.) In short, Google is adapting. 

Answers to Commonly Asked Questions about the “Openness” Local Ranking Factor

News of the algorithm update sparked a flurry of questions from users on X (formerly Twitter). For example:

What Businesses Should Do

To grow your business through reputation experience management, contact Reputation. Our SaaS-based Reputation platform manages tens of millions of consumer reviews and consumer interactions across hundreds of thousands of touchpoints. Explore our website to learn more.

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