SEO News: Location Fluctuation and Quality Rankings

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In this week's roundup, our SEO expert Tom Williams talks local search rankings, deindexing and the latest BERT update. Read more. 


SEO News: Location Fluctuation and Quality Rankings

Businesses' Google and local search rankings are changing, but not for reasons that you might think. In this week's update, I’ll be taking a quick look at why results are dropping and how understanding BERT can help you to stop the downward trend.


Confusion over changing local search ranks


SEO community forums have been left in a state of confusion over the last two weeks after businesses and experts experienced erratic fluctuations in their local search rankings and Google Maps results. Even Google's own Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) was left flummoxed by the changes after one Twitter user asked if there were any major updates that could be causing the problems.

In his response, Danny tweeted:

"So there's nothing in particular we know of that should be doing this. Which isn't to say it's not happening, just no major updates or anything like that."

He also asked for experts to track their rankings and send him the data examples so he can look further into the problem.


Better quality work will stop deindexing


Any SEO expert knows that page quality is king. It's also the solution to stopping Google from deindexing your pages, the search engine's John Mueller (@JohnMu) revealed in a Hangouts call earlier this month.

Although John admitted that it's a relatively common problem, simply by adjusting web pages so they meet Google's quality benchmark, businesses can stop the search engine from deindexing pages that it doesn't think are up to scratch.


BERT update has been 'misunderstood'


Despite an estimated 10% of search queries being affected by the introduction of BERT last year, John Mueller insists that the new tool isn't an algorithm change that directly impacts on rankings, as people have previously thought.

Speaking in a Hangouts call this week, John said:

"BERT is essentially a web of better understanding text. It’s not a ranking change in that sense. It’s really about understanding the text on the page and the text that people enter in the queries."

In short, the BERT update has changed the way Google works to understand pages rather than directly affecting how they rank. This has been driven by consumers' needs to have their long-term search (or even spoken) queries answered more effectively and although may not directly affect rankings, is an interesting new consideration for the SEO community.

Stay relevant to stay on top


If you have pages that have gradually dropped further and further down the search rankings, it probably means that they're in need of an update, Google's John Mueller explained in a recent tweet.

Whether it's a result of poor quality content, website design and functionality, bad targeting, or other factors, making sure that your website is still relevant and usable to the people you're trying to reach will help you shore up your place in the number one position.

If you have any thoughts or questions about any of the news updates in this article, get in touch with us. We’re always researching industry news and updates and would love to hear your take on the latest SEO news. You can also tweet me @tommy_iv.

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