Newly Introduced "Openness" as a Google Update for Local Search Ranking

Newly Introduced "Openness" as a Google Update for Local Search Ranking​

As digital marketing evolves, staying informed of Google’s algorithm updates is imperative for businesses seeking to maintain or increase their online visibility. Recent insights from SEO professionals reveal a recalibration in Google’s local search algorithm, which gives more weight to listed hours of operation as ranking signals.

Impact of Business Hours on Local Search Ranking

SEO experts have observed a discernible trend following the November 2023 core update, wherein businesses appearing as closed experienced a significant decline in visibility within local search results. This shift underscores the growing importance of accurately listing business hours to enhance local search rankings.

Confirmation from Google

Responding to inquiries within the SEO community, Google’s Search Liaison confirmed observations highlighting that “openness” had emerged as a stronger factor for local search. While openness had long been included as one factor of local ranking systems, its prominence increased considerably for non-navigational queries in particular.

Understanding Non-Navigational Queries

A key aspect of this discussion revolves around the definition of non-navigational queries in local search. Non-navigational queries encompass general topics rather than specific businesses. For instance, searching for the name of a business implies a desire to locate or navigate to that particular establishment, whereas searching for a general topic constitutes a non-navigational query.

Concerns and Challenges

Concerns have surfaced regarding any misuse or manipulation of the “openness” factor. Sherry Bonelli expressed reservations over businesses falsifying 24/7 operating hours listings to enhance local search visibility; such actions might create an unpleasant user experience for searchers encountering closed establishments during non-operating hours.

Google’s Response and Recommendations

Google swiftly addressed these concerns, advising against the manipulation of business hours for SEO gains. The ranking signal for “openness” is subject to ongoing evaluation and adjustments, highlighting the importance of maintaining accurate and truthful business information online.


Google’s recent confirmation that “openness” should count as an influential ranking factor underscores the value of transparent and accurate business listings. By listing their hours accurately and adhering to Google guidelines, businesses can increase local search visibility while creating an excellent user experience for prospective customers.


What prompted Google’s emphasis on business hours in local search ranking?

Google’s emphasis on business hours in local search ranking was prompted by the need to provide users with accurate and timely information about businesses. With the increasing reliance on digital platforms to find local SEO services and establishments, ensuring that business hours are up-to-date and accurate has become crucial for enhancing user experience and satisfaction.

How can businesses ensure compliance with Google’s guidelines regarding business hours?

Businesses can ensure compliance with Google’s guidelines regarding business hours by regularly updating their Google My Business (GMB) profiles with accurate operating hours. It’s essential to verify and maintain the correctness of business hours across all online platforms, including the business website, social media profiles, and local directories.

What are non-navigational queries, and how do they impact local search results?

Non-navigational queries refer to general search queries that are not specifically aimed at finding a particular business or location. These queries typically seek information or answers to questions rather than seeking out specific businesses. Non-navigational queries can impact local search results by influencing the relevance and ranking of businesses based on the content and context of the search query.

What are the potential consequences of falsely listing 24/7 operating hours for businesses?

Falsely listing 24/7 operating hours for businesses can have several negative consequences. It can mislead potential customers who rely on accurate business hours to plan their visits, leading to dissatisfaction and frustration if they arrive at the business during non-operating hours. Additionally, manipulating business hours for SEO gains goes against Google’s guidelines and can result in penalties or a decline in search visibility.

How often does Google adjust its ranking signals for local search?

Google regularly evaluates and adjusts its ranking signals for local search to improve the relevance and quality of search results. While the frequency of adjustments may vary, Google aims to provide users with the most accurate and useful information based on their search queries and context. Businesses should stay informed about Google’s updates and guidelines to ensure their local search ranking optimization efforts remain effective.

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