The Google March 2023 broad core update completed its rollout after 13 days. Starting on March 15th and finishing March 28th, we are now seeing the effects of this update through April. While the changes from many core updates are imperceptible and only general SEO best practices can be used to comply with them, this latest update appears to target specific aspects of local listings, of which marketers can capitalize.
The March update has shown businesses normally ranking in the 4th-6th position of local ranking to now appear in the local pack. This change is the most impactful ranking fluctuation possible, one that certainly can’t be ignored. If your business is the one which gained a coveted top 3 spot in the local pack, you’ve struck gold, otherwise you’ve lost a massive lead and will see your organic traffic take a sudden plummet.
An example of a personal injury lawyer below demonstrated their rise from just below the fold to safely within the three pack.
Danny Sullivan of Google said, “core updates can involve image results or any type of content because they involve our core ranking systems that themselves involve all types of content. That’s why our page about them mentions “content” so often.” This quote has led many a marketer to check their data sets and they have confirmed that addresses and proximity were not the biggest contribute to their fluctuation rankings. What have been seen as the largest contributing factors are primary business categories and business profile content.
Categories themselves appear to have increased strength as searches for “electronics” will bring up business with “computer store” as their primary category. Similarly, searching for “baby store” will bring up other broader “clothing” stores. This has been seen to effect even less optimized listings, giving more value and broader terms for them to see rankings.
For listing which have been properly optimized, Sullivan’s quote has had marketers check the values placed on images and other places where listings can upload “content”. Additional emphasis has been shown on ranking factors such as Google Q&A, Google Posts, and the images themselves. For any unique information that a listing can contribute to Google, those are now valued more when deciding between ranking position 4 and 3.
If your business is just below the fold after this latest update, take out all the stops for customized content. There is no greater contributor to listing traffic than the shift from just below to into the 3 pack.