The New Google Vicinity Update

The New Google Vicinity Update

Google Vicinity Update

Content From Joy Hawkins |

This update seemed to be focused on changes around proximity and distance.

Google announced last week that it rolled out an update to the local search and map pack results. It began on November 30 and finished on December 8.

We noticed really dramatic differences in ranking on December 6, 2021. My agency named the update “The Vicinity Update” because the most significant impact we saw was that Google made it so that smaller, less established businesses that are closer to the user are now ranking better than overpowered businesses further away. Google said that it “rebalanced” the factors that make up the algorithm and we have observed that proximity got a big boost while some relevance factors declined.

What industries did it impact?

This update was dramatic, and in my findings, is the biggest update we have seen in local search since the Hawk update in 2017.

Some industries are seeing the impact more than others. We are seeing huge differences for lawyers, home services, insurance, dentists, and many others. It’s important to note that you won’t likely see the impact of this update unless you are doing grid tracking that shows you how far away from your office you rank.

The winners

The winners in this update are:

  • Businesses that don’t have keywords in their business name but have strong competitors that do.
  • Secondary locations for prominent businesses. For example, I’ve seen almost uniformly, across every example I’ve looked at, that the primary location for a business took a hit but their newer offices increased.

The losers from this update are:

  • Businesses that ranked really far from their office.
  • Businesses with keywords in the business name. For example, below are screenshots from a business that meets both criteria. One of the keywords that describes their service is a part of their actual LLC name.

Google has weighted keywords in the business name too heavily for as long as I can remember. This often leads to businesses adding them, regardless of the fact that it breaks Google’s guidelines, because it has such a significant impact on ranking It has also led to Google showing fake listings in the search results instead of real businesses. With this update, businesses that are newer and trying to follow Google’s guidelines should have a much greater shot of ranking.

What Was the Vicinity Update All About?

Posted Dec 16, 2021 by Joy Hawkins

“Vicinity” is defined as the area near or surrounding a particular place. This update, in my findings, was mainly about proximity. The Possum update in 2016 really increased the proximity factor but over the last 5 years we have seen more and more businesses in competitive markets be able to avoid the proximity factor and rank very far away from their office. That doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.


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This post was written by Shoreline Content Team