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Wondering where your Google My Business listing went last month?

Don’t fear. You’re not alone.

Most of the influencers in the digital marketing space were left scratching their heads wondering what on Earth was going on with the all time high in the measurable flux in their clients GMB listings.

As always, Google came up with an intelligent answer. In fact, so intelligent that it almost seems artificial.

If you run a small to medium business and haven’t heard of AI then its time to get ready for the changes coming your way.

In fact, the reality is that AI is already here. It has been purportedly used to determine organic rankings since 2018.

Here are the facts…

  • Google has officially confirmed a local algorithm update took place in early November 2019 based on neural matching affecting all Google My Business rankings.
  • The update has completed it’s roll out as at 3rd December 2019.
  • Neural matching is an AI method used to connect words with concepts and could help to tackle spam in local results.
  • The update has been fully rolled out on a global scale, although we can expect some yo-yoing of results while the machine learns what to prioritize.
  • The local algorithm update is in no way related to October’s organic update, “BERT”

Let me bring you up to speed…

If deep learning and artificial intelligence are not part of your vocabulary I can assure you, if you run a business with a presence online, it soon will be mainstream language.

Graph mining, large-scale optimization and market algorithms…

What does all this mean?

“Less spam!”

This news will come as good news to many – is that keyword spam in business names won’t be favored as much as it once was.

However, many are seeing that there is more spam than ever, so did they get it right?

This is what we are seeing reported in the forums so far worldwide…

  • GMB listings ranking well even when it is as far as 10 miles (when the search was done for 1 mile radius).
  • GMBs with unverified accounts or improper address are ranking on top.
  • GMB listings appear on top with just a keyword and location which has no linked website.
  • Google Research has an entire team dedicated to algorithm optimisation. After all, this algorithm big boss nets a small fortune in Google Ad revenue each year right?

The Google Research team collaborate closely with teams across Google, benefiting Ads, Search, YouTube, Play, Infrastructure, Geo, Social, Image Search, Cloud and more. And according to their website “Along with these collaborations, we perform research related to algorithmic foundations of machine learning, distributed optimization, economics, data mining, and data-driven optimization.”

If your really keen to learn more about the future, check out their blog:  Google AI

AI is now here in Google My Business. It has been announced that it is now Rolled Out to Google My Business in the new ‘BEDLAM’ algorithm.

Why is it called Bedlam?

Well, that’s because it has caused, by Google’s own definition, ‘a scene of uproar and confusion’ and that’s what is being witnessed.

If you ask Google however, they state that “The search giant launches “Explainable AI” to make algorithms more transparent and customers less confused.”

This might be the case down the track but for now, while the machine learns it is causing quite a headache.

What does this mean for your business?

Let’s find out…

  • Bedlam is based on neural matching – an AI method is used to better connect words with concepts, somewhat like a mega thesaurus.
  • Google started rolling out this update in early November, (though they didn’t mention the exact date) and finished it on December 2, 2019.
  • Confirmation came from inside Google finally on December 3rd.

What is Neural Matching?

Neural matching helps Google understand and analyse the search queries well, even if it doesn’t contain a business name or description to offer more user intent results.

Neural matching is an AI-based system Google began using in 2018 primarily to understand how words are related to concepts. It’s like a super-synonym system. Synonyms are words that are closely related to other words…

What’s the supposed benefit?

One of the most important features of the update is that Google can now do a better job of going beyond just the words in a business’s name or description.

What will come as good news to many – is that keyword spam in business names won’t be favored as much as it once was.

However, many are seeing that there is more spam than ever, so did they get it right?

What do you need to do in response to this update?

Maybe frustratingly, once again the answer is “nothing” – providing you’ve been executing local SEO properly pre-update, that is. As always, it’s best to wait for the dust to settle before making any reactive changes.

That being said, now is as good a time as any to ensure you’re doing everything you can do to boost your local SEO efforts:

  • build accurate and relevant citations.
  • fill out your GMB listing in as much detail as possible.
  • encourage positive reviews and respond to all reviews, and of course,
  • do not make use of blackhat or spammy techniques.

This means Google will continually be learning and improving to match users with the most accurate results, so don’t expect your rankings to remain stationary just yet.

Since the roll-out of this update, it’s highly possible you’ll have seen some volatility in you or your clients businesses.

Tracking your rankings shouldn’t only be done during times of high flux. To keep tabs on your positions you should be using tracking software on a scheduled basis to alert you to any changes in your visibility, traffic volumes, conversions and rankings.

To be the first to know about flux in your rankings, sign up to our monthly Google My Business Insights. Contact us for a quote today.

In Summary…

Check your Google My Business Insights to see what impact Bedlam has had if any on your listing(s). If your visibility has moved by more than 5% than its likely that you have some work to do. The best thing to do first would be to measure the impact of Bedlam on your listing, look at your competitors (they may now be new) and work out a strategy with your local listing manager to make sure the shake out doesn’t leave you behind.

Along with Bedlam which affects the visibility of your listing, there have been many other updates to Google My Business as a whole that are worth taking into consideration.

For hoteliers, there are now a dozen new fields to enter and update for all your hotel features. For local business with service areas you can now add up to 20 locations to your service area. Some businesses will even be allowed to add detailed services, menus and products directly to their listing.

At geoLocalSEO, we love to test and measure everything. That is why we provide monthly Google My Business Insights to all our clients who are on our Google My Business Packages. We hear about the upcoming Algorithm changes first and because we are always following Google’s best practice and Quality Guidelines so that our clients can sail smoothly through these updates. We are one step ahead and because we are Google Level 6 Guides, we can even help you deal with competitors who are continuously breaking all the rules and getting away with it.

We manage over 100 Google My Business listings and have worked with businesses that have over 500 locations. Our clients enjoy 100k views of their listings and have response rates of up to 18%. Our clients sailed through this update almost doubling their monthly views from June to November.

Google My Business is now dominating all search – in fact across the board we can tell you that it is now 7 times more important than your Organic rankings. We have the data to prove it. If your listing is not at its 100% then you are wasting the best free opportunity Google is ever going to give you. No one wants to waste money on Google Ads, and that is the harsh alternative if you are not in the 3 pack.

If you think that it would be a good time to get a health check on your Google My Business listing its really simple. We can do that for you in a jiffy. We can check all is well on your listing, provide ranking reports that are backdated to you can measure any impact this Bedlam algorithm update has had on your local listings. We can even advise you on a plan to fix any parts of your listing that may be harming you. All you need to do is get in touch:

  • Text Lisa on 0498 698 066 with your business name and website URL
  • E-mail for a complimentary health check on [email protected]
  • Find me on Twitter @baade_lisa
  • Message us on Facebook @ geoLocalSEO

We would love to help you, Google My Business is our passion and with over 10 years experience in Google Local Search we know that we can.

Lisa has extensive experience in the SEO for the hotel and accommodation industry having worked with some of Australia’s largest brands including IHG, Crown Plaza Hotel Group, the National Convention Centre Canberra, Star Casino, Punthill Apartment Hotels and Hotel Ibis World Square. She also has international SEO experience working with the SEO and inbound marketing strategies for the Nantucket Hotel and Winnetu Oceanside Resort in the USA. If you have questions about your hotels marketing strategy, drop her a line or request a free audit.