Did the YMYL Google Algorithm Affect Your Local Business Website?

The August Google algorithm update launched changes that significantly impacted some local businesses. While some businesses see a positive correlation with these changes, others need to adapt in order to maintain or improve their search ranking. These key changes will help you maximize your results to grow your local business.

Keyword Impact for Local Search

Local SEO is a tricky dance, and this August update may make it a little easier for local businesses to rank on Google. For example, “plumbing Atlanta” would increase a local plumber’s rankings even though they were located in Alpharetta.

However, others have seen a decrease for a business in a major city while maintaining their ranking for the suburb where they were physically located. This change shows that it’s important to continually test new SEO strategies for your local small business.

On-Site Content Was Impacted More Than Links

In January 2016, a study revealed two factors that impact a website’s ranking most: links and content. This includes both the number of links as well as the authority behind the referring domains.

Google’s August update primarily focused on on-site quality more than the links. For websites primarily focused on improving content quality rather than a laser focus on building backlinks, they’re more likely to see an organic increase.

This content quality is more than the content itself, though. This includes:

  • User experience
  • Disruptive advertising
  • Technical SEO settings.

Local and Organic Algorithms’ Gap is Growing

In the past, we’ve seen a positive correlation between the websites that rank both organically locally. After August’s update, though, the correlation is tenuous. Websites that experienced positive changes in their organic results did not have significant increases in their local rankings. The reverse is true as well.

The benefit from this change, though, relates to your Google My Business page. This page is one of the first results for local companies and offers an improved user experience.

Your phone number, website, address, and reviews are listed clearly, making this an important focus for local companies.

Make sure your listing is up to date and offers detailed information potential customers need before contacting your or making a purchase.

“Your Money or Your Life” Categories Heavily Affected

In 2013, Google addressed the rating guidelines for page quality as a part of a push towards identifying expertise and authority online. This included changing how “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) categories were ranked.

These categories, in Google’s words, are those “that can have an impact on your current or future well being (physical, financial, safety, etc.). YMYL pages should come from reputable websites and the content should be created with a high level of expertise and authority.”

This change meant publishers in the finance, legal, and health categories needed to increase the quality and reputability of their content in order to maintain their search ranking.

August’s update added another layer to YMYL. For example, a lawyer’s website experienced the biggest drop on pages related to medical malpractice. A drug rehab website lost two-thirds of their traffic once this change was implemented.

Companies in these affected industries need to focus on building authority with high-quality content and avoid spammy SEO techniques.

Increased Video Carousels for Local Search Results

Another noticeable change was the increase in video carousels for local search results. These types of results were first seen after Google purchased YouTube in 2006, but it primarily affected searches for movies, music, and educational content.

With this August update, Google begins to offer the same increased exposure for local companies. This is a valuable change for content strategies. Local companies that invest in video and implement up-to-date SEO strategies have the opportunity to experience improved results.

Google’s August algorithm update is another change to how local businesses manage their website. This core ranking change doesn’t have to leave you frantic for answers, though. By focusing on great content, an updated Google My Business profile, and investing in video resources for your niche, you can take these changes in stride and see the power of great content and a strong SEO strategy.

Marc Apple

Marc Apple

Digital Strategist

I like inbound marketing strategy, creative design, website development, analytics, and organic and paid search. That's what I write about.