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Google Explains Importance of GMB for Local Search via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s John Mueller answered a question about the difference in SEO between an informational search query and a query for a local service. Mueller answers the question and followed up by explaining what a business needs to do to rank for local search queries, stressing the importance of Google My Business (GMB).

What’s the Difference Between Local and Informational Search Queries?

A “Local Search Query” is a search question that someone types into Google when they are looking for a service or a store that is in their geographic area.

Examples of a local search business can be a a plumber, a restaurant, a retail store or a lawyer.

And informational search query is one where a searcher is trying to find information, like, for example, the cast of a movie, a product review or instructions on how to cook a Hungarian goulash.

Google’s John Mueller Discussing Local Search SEO

Google's John Mueller explaining local search SEO

Google's John Mueller explaining local search SEO

Is SEO Different for Local Versus Informational Web Pages?

The question was asking what the difference was between a local search query and a query for an informational page in terms of SEO.

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The idea the questioner seem to have was that the search intent was different so the SEO for the two kinds of queries had to be different.

“How different is SEO for a product or service page than a normal article?

For example, for keywords like “piano classes near me,” as the user intention would be to find a service rather than a solution?”

SEO for Local and Informational Intent Essentially the Same

Google’s John Mueller answered that in terms of the pages themselves the same SEO considerations applied regardless if the page was for a local service or for an informational page.

At first that may sound surprising but he goes on to explain an important difference with how a local search page is promoted and the answer makes more sense.

Mueller affirms that the SEO for content is the same:

“It’s essentially the same. I don’t think we do anything different with regard to these different kinds of pages.

But rather we try to find the content on the page, understand how it’s relevant and treat that appropriately.”

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So what I think he’s saying is that SEO considerations like the title tag, meta description, heading use, content on the page and perhaps even the structured data is all the same between a web page that’s optimized for a local search query and page that’s optimized for an informational search query.

How to Promote a Local Service in Google

John Mueller next discusses the difference in how a local page is promoted.

“The one thing… to kind of mention here as well is it sounds like what you’re looking at is a local service or local business, essentially.

And for that I would make sure that you really have a really strong Google My Business entry set up.

Because that’s something that can be shown a little bit easier in the search results for queries like this.

And in particular, queries that include something like “near me,” it’s not that you need to rank for “near me” because near me is essentially, like… global.

It’s not something specific on your website.

But rather what you need to do t here is just make sure that you have your location very clearly defined on your pages, so that we can recognize this location is associated with your website or with this page and the user is in that location.

Therefore any query that includes “near me” we can apply, kind of, this geographic distance algorithm to figure out like these are actually results that are near them and they match what they were looking for.

So that’s something to keep in mind there.”

Google My Business (GMB) is Essential for Local Businesses

Mueller next underlined the importance for setting up a Google My Business profile.

Mueller:

“With Google My Business set up, you automatically have a location specified anyway.

So it’s a little bit easier there.

But having all of that combined makes it a lot easier for us to actually understand this is a local result, and the user is local and they’re looking for something local, therefore we should highlight this better in search.”

On-page SEO the Same Despite Difference in User Intent

It might feel like the user intent might make a difference between the SEO for a local search query and an informational site. But in reality what needs to be done are fairly similar.

One thing to keep in mind is that a business must be local if it is included in Google My Business (GMB).

GMB may not be a good fit for a company that has national and/or global clients. What can happen is that the site may disappear from the search engine results pages (SERPs) to searchers outside of the service areas indicated in the GMB profile.

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Citation

Ranking for Local Search Queries Versus Non-local

Watch the Mueller explain local search ranking at the 42:45 minute mark:

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NEWS

Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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