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92 Changes that Happened in 2017 in Local SEO

This year was exciting for me because I decided to launch a training guide for Local SEO that I spend time updating every month.  When I started the project I knew it would be time consuming but didn’t quite realize how much would need to be put into the guide to keep it current and accurate.  I spend 4-6 hours a month updating it but the list of stuff to add still keeps growing.  Part of why my current subscribers find the guide so valuable is because it helps them keep track of the ever-changing nature of Local SEO.  What tactics still work? Which ones don’t?  What tips or tricks help you get the most of the new features Google My Business has implemented?  These are the questions I’m seeking to answer.

As a conclusion to a great year, I wanted to list out all the changes that I’ve been tracking along with some things that are to come.




Feature Changes to Google My Business in 2017

  1. Google defaults to 4+ review average for “best” searches (US only) – (January 2017)
  2. Google removes permanently closed listings from local finder (End of 2016-Early 2017)
  3. Google removes ability to access G+ Classic (February 2017)
  4. You can no longer see some pending edits on listings on mobile (February 2017)
  5. Google changes average rating and now shows review stars  (February 2017)
  6. Google killed off MapMaker (March 2017)
  7. Google rolls out moderation on desktop to Level 5 Local Guides (March 2017). A few weeks later it rolled out to everyone.
  8. Google rolls out the snak pack to more industries
  9. Google rolls out 3-pack ads (Feb-March 2017)
  10. Google adds menu field to GMB  (April 2017)
  11. Google adds bulk insights (April 2017)
  12. Google showing returning vs new customers inside the GMB dashboard (April 2017)
  13. Google showing ads on map (May 2017)
  14. Local Guides & review counts showing up now on desktop (May 2017)
  15. Google showing ratings by traveler type. (May 2017)
  16. Google testing restaurant highlights (May 2017)
  17. Reviews for hotels by customer type (May 2017) 
  18. GMB launches websites (June 2017)
  19. GMB launches posts (June  2017)
  20. Google launches messaging (June 2017)
  21. Google adds ads in the 3-pack on computers (July 2017)
  22. Google changes the process for gaining access to an already-verified listing on GMB (July 2017)
  23. Google adds links for appointments (August 2017)
  24. Google adds Q&A on mobile google maps (August  2017)
  25. Google starts expanding Home Service Ads (August 2017)
  26. Google starts showing attributes on desktop (Summer 2017)
  27. Google shows editable dashboard in search (Sept 2017)
  28. Google starts sending out email notifications for edits to listings. (September 2017)
  29. Google adds booking links to GMB for fitness & beauty verticals (September 2017)
  30. Google adds home-based SABs back into the local results for markets with Home Service Ads (September 2017)
  31. Google rebrands Home Service ads as Local Services by Google (October 2017)
  32. Google launches Small Thanks with Google (October 2017)
  33. Google starts showing response times to messaging in GMB (November 2017)
  34. Q&A rolls out on desktop (November 2017)
  35. The Google Assistant is now connecting users with businesses using Local Service ads (November 2017)

Local Algorithm Updates in 2017

(These are all algorithm updates that were to the local results, not organic)

  1. June 13, 2017 – The Increase of “Non-SEO’d” Listings
  2. August 22, 2017 – The Hawk algorithm update

Local SEO Tips & Strategy Updates in 2017

(Note: these are all pulled from updates that I have added to my guide this year)

  1. The process to remove a spammy photo on your listing changed (April 2017)
  2. How naming consistency impacts ranking in the 3-pack (April 2017)
  3. How to get a list of zip codes in a specific city (April 2017)
  4. Google adds 5 new GMB categories (Jan-April 2017)
  5. Is it a good idea to list the NAP for a business in the footer of a website? (April 2017)
  6. If a patient posts a review on Google that violates HIPAA, can it be removed? (April 2017)
  7. How to use Gravity Forms to track conversions in Google Analytics (April 2017)
  8. How to optimize images inside WordPress (April 2017)
  9. How to properly mark up reviews to get gold stars in the organic results (May 2017)
  10. How to get edits on Google Maps approved faster (May 2017)
  11. How to report a user who is spamming on Google Maps (May 2017)
  12. How to report a competitor that is offering incentives for reviews (May 2017)
  13. How to deal with 2 businesses that operate out of the same address (May 2017)
  14. Does activity that comes from AdWords Location Extensions get counted in Google My Business Insights.  The answer is yes. (May 2017)
  15. How to see if Google just changed their review filter, which runs in waves (May 2017)
  16. How to see if reviews you have written have been filtered (May 2017)
  17. Google adds 3 new GMB categories (May 2017)
  18. How to find duplicate listings for practitioners (May 2017)
  19. How to deal with incorrect Street View on a local listing (May 2017)
  20. How to use review schema if you only want to show positive reviews from customers (June 2017)
  21. How an appointment-only business needs to approach Google My Business (June 2017)
  22. How to tell how many more 5-star reviews are needed to pull up your average rating (June 2017)
  23. When it’s a bad idea to report a competitor’s duplicate listing (June 2017)
  24. How to get ads in the 3-pack (June 2017)
  25. How to see the address on a GMB listing that has it hidden (June 2017)
  26. Tips on how to utilize Google Posts (June 2017)
  27. The direct link to phone support changed (July 2017)
  28. Google changes the ways you can get in touch with GMB support (July 2017)
  29. How to fix an incorrect address on Google Maps (July 2017)
  30. Is it better to report local spammers to GMB or Local Guides? (July 2017)
  31. How to see if Google can properly understand the location you’re searching from (July 2017)
  32. Why you get a different top 3 listings in the Local Finder than the 3 you saw in the 3-pack (July 2017)
  33. Is Google going to make the 3-pack completely paid? (August 2017)
  34. Why is Google removing home-based businesses from the local results and how to combat it (August 2017)
  35. How to remove listings from the local results that aren’t eligible to be there (August 2017)
  36. How to best use Google’s new Q&A feature (August 2017)
  37. What is the purpose of the duplicate reporting option on Google Maps? (August 2017)
  38. How to add a phone number with an extension in Google My Business (August 2017)
  39. Google adds 20 new GMB categories (September 2017)
  40. How does the local filter work? (September 2017)
  41. How do you get unfiltered if a competitor near you caused Possum to filter you? (September 2017)
  42. How do Google My Business updates work and why does it sometimes not show you what was updated? (September 2017)
  43. How to track calls that come from ads in the 3-pack (September 2017)
  44. How to tell if Home Service ads are to blame for you not ranking in the local results (September 2017)
  45. What is the fastest & best way to get a hold of GMB support? (September 2017)
  46. How are Advanced Verification and Local Services by Google different? (October 2017)
  47. How to verify a Google My Business listing that is at an old address? (October 2017)
  48. The calls that show up in Google My Business Insights are only counting about 30-50% of the real number of calls you get from GMB.  Added a way to see all the calls (October 2017)
  49. Google My Business has changed the process for how to deal with practitioners that leave the practice (October 2017)
  50. Businesses that use [name omitted] had a ton of Google reviews removed from July 2017-October 2017.  I looked into what caused that to happen and how to avoid it (November 2017)
  51. There is a new signup form for Local Services by Google along with an email contact and phone number for that department (November 2017)
  52. Google’s new process for getting rid of a review that violates their guidelines (November 2017)
  53. What 2 items show up in the new GMB dashboard on search that you cannot see in the normal dashboard (November 2017)
  54. Google actually accepts references to one particular 3rd party directory over all the others out there (November 2017)
  55. Google posts do have a moderate impact on ranking (November 2017)


In addition to all that, I’m always testing new things to see what has changed and how it should impact the way that we service clients.  Here are a few things I’m currently testing that I’ll be reporting on in my guide in the coming months in 2018:

  • Does liking a review have any impact on how it shows up?
  • Why a business ranks high organically but is nowhere in the 3-pack
  • Does using Yext actually help ranking?
  • Does optimizing photos in GMB have any impact on ranking?

My list of things to add is currently at 47 topics and growing fast.  What was your favorite change in 2017?  If you have any suggestions of things you think I should look a next, please leave them in the comments.  The Expert’s Guide to Local SEO is for sale over at LocalU.

Want more local SEO tips?
Check out our LocalU Event in NYC in September!.

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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

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