‘Openness’ has become an important factor in local search and maps that can greatly impact a company’s visibility. No longer is ‘openness’ a weaker ranking signal for local search results, according to Google, the top search engine. This means that a company’s visibility and search engine rankings are highly affected by the hours of operation that are listed on their Google Business Profile. Here we’ll go over why it’s crucial to have correct business hours, what changes have been made to this ranking signal, and how to keep your Google Business Profile information current.
Importance of ‘Openness’ as a Ranking Signal: A Growing Concern
According to new research from SEO experts, Google has tweaked its local search algorithm to prioritize a company’s stated opening and closing times more heavily in search engine rankings. Following the core update in November 2023, which made closed businesses much less visible in local search results, this trend became apparent. A well-known local search expert, Joy Hawkins of Sterling Sky, brought attention to this trend on Twitter, saying that closed businesses can disappear from the local pack.
Assured by Google’s Search Liaison
After hearing feedback about how “openness” affects local search rankings, Google’s Search Liaison finally admitted that it’s a big deal. ‘Openness’ has recently grown more significant as a local search signal, particularly for queries that do not involve navigation, as they verified. But they made it clear that this ranking signal is only for broad subjects; it won’t help people find specific businesses when they search for their names.
Resolving Issues and Controlling Operating Hours
There are concerns about possible manipulation, but the increased importance of ‘openness’ as a ranking signal is good news for businesses with accurate operational hours. Local search expert Sherry Bonelli is concerned that some companies may try to trick search engines by claiming to be open around the clock. Searchers may end up at a business when it isn’t open, which could hurt user experience.
Google wasted no time responding to these complaints and warned against using artificially inflated business hours to boost search engine rankings. Businesses can rest assured that the ‘openness’ ranking signal is constantly being adjusted. However, they should be wary of receiving suspension emails from Google due to manipulating this signal.
Guidelines for Reliably Observing Scheduled Business Hours
It is critical for local businesses to maintain accurate operating hours in their Google My Business profiles for two reasons: to appear prominently in local search results and to give customers a good experience. Customers depend significantly on accurate information for their holiday shopping needs, so this is especially important during that time. A company’s visibility in the local pack rankings and customer satisfaction can both be enhanced by keeping accurate operating hours.
Some things to keep in mind when managing your Google Business Profile and making changes to your opening and closing times are:
- Be sure to check and update your business hours on Google Business Profiles regularly. Whenever there are changes or special occasions like holidays or events, make sure to review and update them.
- Prepare ahead of time for holiday hours: If your business hours will be changing during the holiday season, make sure to update your Google Business Profile accordingly.
- Take advantage of Google’s special hours feature: Use this feature to let people know if your business is open earlier than usual or if you’ll be holding extended hours on certain days.
- Keeping an eye on and reacting to client feedback: When it comes to your business hours, read the reviews and listen to the feedback from customers. In order to keep a good reputation online, you need to handle any complaints or inconsistencies right away.
- Take advantage of local SEO tactics: Update your Google Business Profile with up-to-date hours of operation and other local SEO tactics like relevant keyword addition, photo optimization, and review management to boost your visibility in local search results.
Why Precise Business Hours Are Beneficial
Keeping your Google Business Profile up-to-date with accurate operating hours has multiple advantages for your company:
- You can improve your visibility and attract more potential customers by keeping your operating hours up-to-date. This will increase the likelihood that you appear in local search results and the rankings of the local pack.
- Customers are more likely to have a positive experience and spend less time in frustration when you provide them with accurate operating hours. Customer satisfaction and loyalty can be enhanced in this way.
- A competitive advantage is that you can attract customers who are looking for businesses open at specific times by standing out from the crowd if your competitors have incorrect or out-of-date operating hours listed.
- Enhanced foot traffic: Customers who use search engines to find local businesses with specific opening hours will be more likely to visit your establishment if the information on your Google Business Profile is accurate.
- Building a positive online reputation: Customers value businesses that keep their information current and reliable, so it’s important to consistently provide accurate operating hours.
Lastly, it is crucial to recognize the significance of ‘openness’ as a ranking signal in local search. Google’s latest updates have reiterated the importance of having up-to-date business hours listed on Google My Business pages. Keeping information current helps businesses stand out, provides better service to customers, and ranks higher in local search results. Businesses must constantly assess and revise their opening and closing times, particularly during busy seasons, to make the most of their online presence and draw in more customers.
See first source: Search Engine Journal
What is the significance of ‘openness’ in local search and Google Business Profiles?
‘Openness’ refers to a company’s stated opening and closing hours, which have become a crucial ranking signal in local search. It greatly impacts a company’s visibility and search engine rankings on platforms like Google.
Why has ‘openness’ become a more important ranking signal for local search results?
Google adjusted its local search algorithm to prioritize ‘openness,’ particularly after a core update in November 2023. This change made closed businesses less visible in local search results, highlighting the importance of accurate business hours.
Who confirmed the increased significance of ‘openness’ as a ranking signal in local search?
Google’s Search Liaison acknowledged the importance of ‘openness’ as a ranking signal, especially for broad search queries that do not involve specific business names. However, it doesn’t impact searches for specific businesses.
What concerns have arisen regarding the importance of ‘openness’ in local search?
There are concerns about potential manipulation of business hours to boost search engine rankings. Some businesses might claim to be open around the clock, which could mislead customers and harm user experience.
How has Google responded to concerns about manipulating the ‘openness’ ranking signal?
Google has warned against using artificially inflated business hours to manipulate search engine rankings. They continually adjust this ranking signal but may suspend businesses found to be manipulating it.
Why is it crucial for local businesses to maintain accurate operating hours on their Google Business Profiles?
Accurate operating hours are vital for two reasons: to appear prominently in local search results and to provide a good customer experience. Customers rely on accurate information, especially during holidays and events, enhancing both visibility and customer satisfaction.
What should businesses consider when managing their Google Business Profile and making changes to operating hours?
Businesses should regularly check and update their business hours on Google Business Profiles, especially during changes or special occasions. They should also prepare for holiday hours, use Google’s special hours feature, address customer feedback promptly, and implement local SEO tactics.
What are the benefits of keeping precise business hours listed on a Google Business Profile?
Keeping accurate operating hours has several advantages, including improved visibility in local search results, enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty, a competitive advantage over competitors with incorrect hours, increased foot traffic, and a positive online reputation.
How can businesses maximize their online presence and attract more customers by keeping accurate business hours?
To maximize their online presence and attract more customers, businesses should continually assess and update their opening and closing times, especially during busy seasons. This ensures they benefit from higher rankings in local search and increased customer engagement.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Joshua Golde; Unsplash – Thank you!