Google has now confirmed the numerous reports of a local search update that began in early November. The update is related to Google “making use of neural matching as part of the process of generating local search results,” Google said on the @SearchLiason twitter account.
The confirmation. Google confirmed these local ranking changes at 12:10pm ET today with these string of posts on Twitter:
What it means. Google is saying that it now understands your queries, as it relates to local searches, differently, and thus the local results have changed. Google said there are no required changes a business needs to make and directs these businesses to the basic local ranking help document published by Google long ago.
The name. Google has went with the generic name, “Nov. 2019 Local Search Update.” Similar to the [Month] [Year] Google Core Update formats it has been using for the other confirmation of Google search algorithm updates.
Neural matching at Google. Google said it began using neural matching in search back in 2018 to better understand queries. Maybe similar to BERT and RankBrain but it is different. We have an article named Google’s neural matching versus RankBrain: How Google uses each in search with more details.
Why we care. Google has confirmed it, so you now have clear evidence that it is not just your imagination or your data showing ranking changes with the local search results. Google here is saying it now uses neural matching to better understand local queries and thus, Google may show different local results because of it.
Google’s advice here has remained the same, Google still says relevance, prominence and distance are the key three things to ranking well in local.