By Don Marks Jan 9, 2024 1:10:13 PM
Google recently made news when they publicly acknowledged that the business hours on your Google Business Profile can affect the online visibility of your business. This is notable because historically, Google has only publicly acknowledged these three ranking factors: Relevance, Distance, and Prominence.
Your Operating Hours are Now a Larger Ranking Factor for Select Search Terms
The SEO community is always looking for clues to increase the online visibility of their clients. Through data analysis, it was recently discovered that operating hours were playing a larger role in the visibility of certain businesses during specific times of the day. After widespread reports of this change began circulating online, Google released a statement acknowledging the change and stating that it strengthens the ‘openness’ signal, effectively increasing the visibility of businesses that are classified as “open”.
In simple terms, businesses classified as open 24 hours show up for select search queries during after-hours or weekend searches more prominently than other businesses that previously had visibility within Google Maps.
Should You Change Your Business Listing to Reflect Being Open 24 Hours?
Many business owners are now asking about adjusting their business hours. Google’s official position on this change is that if your business was not being marketed as a 24-hour business previously, simply updating your business hours is not recommended.
- Danny Sullivan, Google
Additionally, it was disclosed that businesses attempting to “game the system” by changing hours may find their listing suspended.
Google’s algorithms are complex in nature and adjusting one signal is likely to send Google to other sources to verify the validity of those changes. For example, what are the hours you have listed on your website? What hours are listed on your social media accounts?
Have you submitted business hours on local directories, such as Yelp or the Better Business Bureau?
By creating inconsistent messages in the search ecosystem, you have the potential to trigger a "filter" (which removes your listing from being visible for certain searches), or a "Manual Action Penalty", which could remove your listing altogether from the Maps section.
Keep the Customer Experience in Mind
Something to consider is that Google reviews have historically been a large influence on company visibility within Google Maps, and the misrepresentation of your hours could lead to an increase in negative reviews, and a decrease in the overall customer experience.
Service-oriented businesses that don’t offer sales and support after-hours may find that the additional exposure offered by more calls creates a path toward adjusting your business operations to meet demand for non-traditional service hours. However, if you're marketing yourself as a 24 hour business, customers aren't expecting to speak to a voicemail inbox - they'll expect to speak to someone immediately about their need.
We know from working with hundreds of small businesses over the years that things change quickly on platforms like Google. When search engines believe they're being manipulated, they're likely to diminish - or potentially remove - certain ranking factors. This recent update from Google has a high probability of changing and being adjusted in the coming months as it's seen how this change actually plays out in reality.
How Can HLM Help You Navigate this Recent Change?
At HLM, we believe that every business owner has the right to adjust and adapt their marketing strategy so that it best aligns with their industry and specific market area. A one-size-fits-all approach is rarely the correct solution in Digital Marketing though, so our Digital Marketing Consultants and Customer Success Managers are available to discuss your business goals and objectives, helping you weigh the potential outcomes of making changes to your business listing.
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