Google recently confirmed what many have suspected for the last month or so. The search god has updated their parameters with regard to local search and released a statement stating that they are: “making use of neural matching as part of the process of generating local search results…” The company stated that they are now using neural matching strictly for local search results only.
The company said that: “Neural matching is an AI-based system Google began using in 2018 primarily to understand how words are related to concepts. It’s like a super-synonym system. The use of neural matching means that Google can do a better job going beyond the exact words in business name or description to understand conceptually how it might be related to the words searchers use and their intents…”
For small local businesses this means that they may notice a shifting in ranking. Basically, neural matching allows Google’s AI to find local companies even when there is no information about a particular company included in the search such as name or address.
In a recent report released by Search Engine Land, they reported that: “We now have clear evidence that it is not just your imagination or your data showing ranking changes with the local search results. Google is saying it now uses neural matching to better understand local queries and thus, Google may show different local results because of it. Last year, (Google spokesman Danny) Sullivan said neural matching was impacting 30% of queries. That’s surely increased with the roll-out of it to local queries.Google’s advice here remains the same: relevance, prominence and distance are the keys to ranking well in local. It’s just that Google’s understanding of relevance has now expanded with neural matching.”
-Written by Kevin Sawyer