Local search is important for Google and has seen many changes over the years. The number of changes has kept SEO professionals and local businesses on their toes. Here is a list of changes Google made to Local search in the recent past:
In 2016, Google shook up the local search market by taking the users location into account during the search. Previously, a business just outside the city limits would not appear in search results when the city name was one of the search terms. Now when you search for a restaurant, Google looks at the distance from your current location when it returns results.
Google’s introduction of RankBrain, which uses AI to decipher the meaning behind search terms, improved the relevance of answers for local businesses. Also, RankBrain can process page content and discern the meaning of its content, vastly reducing the effect of content spam.
2014 and 2012
In 2012 Google introduced the Venice update which brought business details onto general search. Previously, business information was only available on Google Maps. The benefit was clear, especially for companies that had several geographic locations. All the companies needed to do to take advantage was to set up a page for each location.
Google completed the transition of business information to search when it the Pigeon update applied the Google algorithm to local search. The relevance of results went through the roof, increasing the utility of Google and increasing visibility for businesses.