Google continues to refine its search engine. The Google you use today is vastly different from the search engine first rolled out in 1998. As far as the search results are concerned, Google wants to provide the most relevant results possible. In order to accomplish this, Google’s engineers and data experts implement periodic updates.
Now, Google is launching an update to its search algorithms that could have a huge impact on local search results. Google is rolling out “neural matching” for local search results. Neural matching, according to Google, can be thought of as “super synonyms” and will allow the search engine to better understand what users are looking for.
In practice, neural matching will help Google shift away from relying on exact keywords. Google’s algorithm will take a more liberal, dynamic approach and will try to be more comprehensive in understanding searchers and their queries.
This, in turn, should help Google provide better localized search results. For businesses with effective local search SEO strategies, this could provide opportunities to draw in more traffic and customers. Of course, if your business lacks a localized search strategy, you may not see any benefits from the search engine update. In fact, you might suffer worst results!
Google has implemented the neural matching update, so we’re seeing the impact of the new update. Google has rolled the update out in all languages and across the world.
Local Search is a Powerful Tool for Small Businesses
Local search has emerged as a powerful tool for local businesses. These days, when a consumer wants to find something, whether it’s a burger or a doctor, they often turn first to a search engine and conduct a quick search. Since most Americans have a smartphone, they can even conduct local searches while out and about.
Meanwhile, Google knows people are often looking for local results when they’re conducting a search. If you’re looking for the best marketing firm in Brooklyn, companies based in Chicago aren’t particularly relevant to you. Google has already provided local results by simply presenting businesses located near the search user.
With the new update, Google will continue to focus on local businesses and local results. Now, however, Google will work harder to understand the user and what they are actually looking for. This way, Google should be able to provide more relevant search results.
As for your SEO strategy, neural matching means you won’t have to focus as intensely on exact keywords. Google will be more flexible and will try to develop a more holistic understanding of your content. This means you can be a bit more flexible with your search engine strategy and can use more diverse keywords.
However, having an effective SEO strategy will become all the more important with neural matching. In the past, you could focus on a smaller number of keywords and hopefully get to the top of results. Now, you may have to be more expansive in targeting keywords and optimizing your site.
Instead of just “marketing in New York City”, for example, you might need to add terms like “media consultant,” or “printing services NYC,” or whatever else. Likewise, restaurants will want to talk about more than just their most popular items.
What Changes Are Coming Next?
The recent update will be far from the last change to Google’s algorithms. Every few years, Google usually implements a pretty big overhaul. If anything, neural matching and the changes to the local results are modest by Google’s update standards.
Still, the change does show the direction Google is likely to go in. Neural matching is the result of machine learning. In the years ahead, expect machine learning and AI to have an ever bigger impact on search results, both local and national.