Understanding the Latest Google Business Profile “Openness” Update & the Impact It Has on Your Business

Digital MarketingSEO
By Janet Lee | March 11, 2024 | 5 min read Reviewed By Tyler Brown

In just one year, Google made over 5,000 changes to its search algorithm. Amid the ever-changing world of SEO, the Big Leap team is here to help you stay up-to-date (and sane) on the latest news. 

The news we’re discussing today? Google’s openness update. 

During our last company meeting, Senior Director of SEO Tyler Brown recently shed light on the new Google Business Profile (GBP) “openness” update. Seeing that it has and will continue to impact local businesses, we’re addressing what the update is and what it means for your business. 

What Is Google’s New Openness Local SEO Ranking Factor?

Google now uses a business’ “openness”—whether a business is open per its listed hours of operation during a Google search—to determine when to list that local company in search results.

For example, if a business is closed, Google is less likely to show the business listing in search results. Alternatively, if a business is open, the listing is more likely to show up in the SERP. 

How Does the Update Affect Rankings?

If you’ve had challenges finding your own business online lately while your business is closed, it’s likely due to the openness local ranking factor. 

Google states it’s been using openness as part of its local ranking systems for a while, but this update makes openness a stronger signal for non-navigational queries. 

Queries like the “best bookshops in Portland” are considered non-navigational. You’re looking for options rather than a specific place. 

Operating hours can significantly impact where your business lands in non-navigational searches. This means you need to stay vigilant with your Google Business Profile page, ensuring your hours are accurate. That way, your company will show up at the right time.

The openness ranking factor is still subject to ongoing adjustments, so how it impacts rankings will likely continue to evolve.

Are There Tools for Time-Based Local Search Tracking?

As of now, there are no tools yet for time-based tracking. Our team has reached out to several tools such as Local Falcon and BrightLocal, and while the development teams have been keeping time tracking on their radar, they are waiting to see how the openness update further unfolds. 

What Should I Do?

Here are a few best practices we recommend to help your local businesses stay visible and keep yours in good online standing:  

  • Keep track of your local rankings: While there are no tools that track rankings at a specific time every day or week, keep an eye on your local rankings and how openness might be impacting your search visibility. Reach out to your preferred rank tracking tool’s development team to see what their plans are for time tracking features. 
  • Update operational hours: The ranking factor puts more emphasis on transparency and accurate information. Make sure the current business hours on your Google Business Profile are accurate and up to date. 
  • Keep an eye on Google’s updates: Google stated that the “ranking signal may continue to be adjusted,” as there are still some hurdles to address. We encourage you to bookmark Google’s support resources page to stay in the know. 
  • Continue to lean on white-hat SEO practices: The openness update does not mean you should update your operating hours to 24/7. Google recommends businesses DON’T do this. It doesn’t contribute to a positive user experience, and considering openness will likely evolve, your business might take a hit in terms of rankings. 

Success Stories That Illustrate the Value of Local SEO Best Practices

This openness update reiterates the importance of maintaining accurate local information, all backed by local SEO best practices. Doing so ensures your business is visible to prospective customers at the right time and establishes a positive customer experience. 

Here are a couple of success stories illustrating the value of staying rooted in local SEO best practices. 

Visionworks Content Marketing

VisionWorks Logo

To increase Visionworks’ local visibility, Big Leap helped our client craft over 300 pieces of localized content. These efforts helped bring in a 5.86 million increase in impressions for its local pages. 

Roofing Contractor Client

After optimizing our roofing contractor client’s site for local SEO and creating 70 accurate location pages, our client was able to earn a 301% increase in new site users and a 1,308% increase in local keyword positions. 

Read our Complete Guide to Local SEO for Multiple Location Businesses

We encourage you to get more knowledgeable on all things local SEO with our complete guide for multi-location businesses. It covers:

  • Why local SEO matters for multi-location businesses
  • The difference between local SEO for multi-location businesses and franchises
  • The benefits and challenges of local SEO
  • What it takes to do local SEO right
  • The results you can get with Big Leap’s SEO services

What Does Local SEO for Multiple Location Businesses and Franchises Mean?

The goal for local SEO for multiple location businesses and franchises may be fundamentally the same as for a small business: To get seen in search results and generate organic traffic to your site. But the process to accomplish this on a large scale is very different.

First, we must distinguish between multi-location and franchise business models.

SEO for Multi-Location Businesses

A multi-location business is owned and operated by the same company. Every physical location under this business structure is a direct extension of corporate operations.

Branding, hiring, management, and marketing are unified so the public finds consistency in products and services no matter which location they visit. Since the same entity owns every location, they have to oversee each store’s online content and SEO. Read our complete guide for multi-location businesses here.

Google has a long history of algorithm updates, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon. If you have any questions about how this algorithm update impacts your business, get in touch with one of our local SEO specialists.

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