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Google Just Added a NEW Local Pack Ranking Factor

Recently, on the Local Search Forum, there was a thread from several business owners who were seeing abnormal map pack ranking fluctuations since the November 2023 core algorithm update. They were seeing drastic differences in rankings based on the time of day:

“Rankings significantly dropped overnight. The position dropped from 1 to 10, and further. Then, by the end of the day, it recovered most of the rankings. But now it has dropped again! Can anyone tell me what is going on?”

Through some testing and pouring over ranking reports, we discovered exactly what was going on. As of November 2023, Google appears to be looking at whether a business is currently open as a ranking factor for local pack rankings.

In this example, this is how a lawyer ranked when they were closed vs two hours later when they were open:

This is a psychiatrist’s ranking on the weekend, when they are not open, compared to that same keyword on a week day when they are open:

Yan Gilbert also shared a really awesome visual from Local Falcon that shows the variance by hour for all these restaurants based on who is open and who is closed.

And to clarify, yes this is new. This lawyer had no problems ranking at 7am in October, despite the fact that they were closed.

If you are a business that’s open 24-hours a day, this would benefit you in the evenings when your competitors disappear but you still rank:

I’d suggest checking out this post if you’re wondering if you should change your hours based on this update.

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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.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. What about businesses that don’t have business hours listed? If a business has seasonality and is only open by appointment part of the year so they remove business hours during that time, should they expect to rank lower than businesses with hours even when those businesses are closed you think? Or are those the businesses ranking higher when the others are listed as closed?

  2. I can understand Google’s perspective in providing a tailored service for customers, but there is a risk of excluding potential clients seeking assistance during unconventional hours, effectively forcing us to manipulate opening and closing hours to align with the algorithm.

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