Google’s rules for local SEO are sometimes mysterious. City, category, services… What are the keywords that will allow a company to stand out from its competitors? Which ones, on the opposite, will penalise your online visibility?

Since the important “Vicinity” update of the local algorithm, these rules have changed a little. To better understand the impact of keywords on Google’s ranking, Partoo analysed 16,200 business listings among its French clients (large companies, small businesses, SMEs and self-employed). Here is what we learned.

Large retailers: +42% impressions without keywords in the name

In 2022, the outlets of large brands, chains or franchises appeared 42% more often on discovered searches if they did not include keywords in their name. It is a significant difference, but it is relatively recent. In 2021 the difference between listings with and without keywords was barely noticeable (only -2%).

It can also be seen that the number of searches discovered for outlets without a keyword increased by 67% between 2021 and 2022 and by only 13% for outlets with a keyword.

Definition: a “discovery search” is when a user has searched for a category, product or service the business offers and its business listing has appeared in the results.

VSE-SME: +149% visibility of business listings on discovery searches

If the trend interests large companies, it is much more spectacular for small and very small businesses. In 2022, they will appear in 149% more discovered searches when they do not include a keyword in the title of their listing. The difference was only +40% the previous year.

Thus, the number of discovered queries on which they appear increased by 201% between 2021 and 2022 if they did not indicate any keyword in their name. Conversely, with a keyword, the number of appearances on these queries increased by only 15%. To be visible online, these establishments are therefore well-advised not to include a keyword in the name of their listing.

The 3 factors that explain these results

The analysis that we have carried out is fascinating, as the differences in visibility between listings with and without keywords are significant.

Whether it’s Google or the changing habits of consumers, there are several reasons for these changes in visibility in search results:

The Vicinity algorithm update has changed the game. By tightening the rules on acceptable keywords in business names, Google is forcing the hand of businesses to harmonise local search results for internet users and penalising those who don’t play along.

Most searches are done on mobile devices: in 2022, 70% of web traffic will come from mobile devices, with users increasingly geolocated. This trend is growing and directly influences the results displayed by Google.

Location-based search terms are now obsolete: thanks to the constant GPS location of mobile devices, the way people search for a local establishment is changing. People are no longer searching for a city but trusting their location.

Forcing specific keywords into the name of your listing can significantly penalise your online presence. In a constantly evolving ecosystem, adapting to new uses and staying on top of the updates deployed by Google is more essential than ever.

Questions about our study? Need help optimising your store’s listing? Don’t wait any longer and contact Partoo!

Methodology of the study: Data from the statistics of 16,200 Google business cards of sales outlets located in France, all categories of activity included and managed by Partoo.

Author: Andile

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