How Recent Google Changes Are Affecting Local & Mobile

Hi, I’m Paul Steinbrueck and welcome to OurChurch.Com’s monthly SEO Update for November 2016, keeping you up to date on what’s happening in the world of search and how it affects you.

This month we’ve got more info on Google’s local update, news on Google’s move to mobile and data on the impact of local reviews. Let’s get to it…


1) Impact of the Google Local Update
Last month we talked about Google’s local update, which rolled out in early September and affects search rankings in Google Maps and the local results that are displayed in a Google search. Because Google has not shared much info on the update, we’ve had to figure out its impact through observation and experimentation.

Local SEO expert Joy Hawkins recently published a study in which she found the Google local update affected 64% of local search rankings, and 36% of local listings moved up or down 3 or more places. That’s a pretty significant change.

Additionally, we here at OurChurch.Com are seeing a significant geographical narrowing of local search results. What I mean by that is, in the past when searching Google maps for a keyword in a city, we used to see some listings for places in neighboring cities. As a result, we could get a church or business to rank well for searches not just in their own city but also in nearby cities. Lately, however, Google Maps is showing fewer and sometimes no listings from neighboring cities, which is affecting organizations’ ability to connect with people in all of the cities they serve.

So, if you’re church or local business is not getting as many visitors from nearby cities, this could be why. We’re continue to monitor and adjust to this change.

Study shows Google’s Possum update changed 64% of local SERPs

2) Google Further Prioritizes Mobile
As smart phones have gained in popularity, Google has focused more and more on mobile. For the last couple of years, it has been adjusting its search results for mobile users, giving a boost to mobile-friendly sites. In the future, however, Google will be making its mobile search results the primary or default search results. It’s also beginning to index and rank the mobile version of websites rather than the desktop version.

This is important for two reasons. First, if your website still is not mobile-friendly, it’s going to hurt your search rankings in more searches. So, get to work on getting a mobile-friendly site. Second, if you have a mobile-friendly, responsive site, it displays a different version of your site on different size devices. When you optimize your website, it’s important to make sure all versions of your site are optimized.

3) Study: Local Reviews Dramatically Increase Click Rate
Last but not least… we’ve been talking for years about the importance of getting local reviews, especially in Google. I think we all know intuitively that when we’re looking for something online and we see an organization with lots of positive reviews that we’re more inclined to consider that organization over one with few or no reviews. Recently, the company Bright Local published a study in which they found local reviews increased click rates by a whopping 22%.

So, if you want more visitors to your website, ask your church members, school parents, business customers or ministry volunteers to post a review of your organization.

That is all for this month’s update.

Remember, your website and its search rankings can have a huge impact on your ability to live out your mission. I hope this update has given you some insight and ideas into how to do that better. If you have any questions or comments, please post a comment below.

And if there’s anything else we here at OurChurch.Com can do to help you live out your mission online, please contact us. We’d love to help!

Thanks for watching!

4 Responses to “How Recent Google Changes Are Affecting Local & Mobile”

  1. Hey!

    I don't know much about the Google update for Local business & mobile, but sound good to know here including some reference post websites.

    – Chirag | Designer

  2. The giant Google changed a lot, and it is necessary that Google with respect to time provide updates. It is the best work from the Google that webmasters get the real time algorithm update. Artificial Intelligence is the top Priority of the Google.

  3. Superb Tutorial
    My old website got manually penalized for doing so. Maybe we overdid it. So, I’m not sure if it’s a good idea.! So thanks for helping and sharing new updates.

  4. Im from an SEO agency in Canada that is comprised of a team of Christ followers. We're focused on following Christ and delivering meaningful impact to our clients. I'm wondering if you would be up to getting connected to encourage each other and letting us know how we can continue to support one another, for the benefit of His kingdom.