In December 2021, Google rolled out the most significant local algorithm update in five years, and it has taken the world of local and hyperlocal SEO by storm. Read on if you wonder how this latest Google algorithm update affects your business!

The last algorithm update from Google was in 2016, Possum that focussed on the proximity factor filtering businesses out to highlight relevant businesses near you. However, more companies have figured out ways to rank better despite their offices located further away.

As a result, the vicinity update focuses on small businesses previously overpowered by large businesses located further away and highlights them on the local SERPs.

This article contains everything you need to know about the vicinity update, including accommodating the latest change in algorithm and remaining relevant in local SERPs.

Vicinity Update - Google’s Latest Local Algorithm Update

(Image source)

What Is The Vicinity Update?

The latest Google algorithm update : Vicinity is the literal representation of the word meaning nearby area surrounding a particular place. It helps put small and less established businesses close to users on the local map SERPs instead of well-established business giants located further away.

While the previous algorithm update, Possum, kept proximity as its prime focus, the latest update is an implementation of the intent to give relevant small businesses a fair chance at ranking and visibility.

If your SEO strategy consists of adding keywords to your Google Business Profile, your ranking may take a hit following the new Google update. It has been observed that businesses using keywords in their names have suffered a dramatic drop in search rankings following the vicinity update. Companies adhering to Google’s guidelines on correct keyword usage can benefit from the latest update.

Possum was rolled out to filter out redundant businesses from the business listings displaying the most relevant results. Large firms with a strong SEO team could rank in the local map packs over local businesses that lacked keywords or solid SEO techniques. However, using a combination of keyword stuffing and SEO, large companies had figured out a way to overpower small local businesses.

What Has Changed?

The layout of local map packs has changed, appearing to be zoomed in to display a wider variety of local businesses majority of which were previously invisible. The map packs that seemed rectangular have transformed into a square zooming in on the most relevant nearby businesses.

The vicinity update has impacted businesses with keyword-rich business names that used to dominate an entire market but lacked relevance lowering their ranking of SERPs.


Ranking of SERPs before Vicinity Update


Ranking of SERPs after Vicinity Update


The previous updates lasting impact on local map packs and SERP ranking were Hawk and Possum, making Vicinity the most extensive local update since 2016.

Acclimatizing To The Latest Google Algorithm Update

If your ranking has been affected by this update, fret not, we have compiled a list of google friendly changes in your listing to accommodate this new update. Adhering to these google recommended changes will help you top the ranking on SERPs like never before.

  • Ensure you provide accurate business information for organic visibility.
  • Getting your business listed on the first page of SERPs is dependent on the accuracy, completeness, and engagement of your Google My Business profile.
  • Improve your local authority and relevance, so Google displays your business in the local results. Complete business information enables you to compete against your competitors with incomplete or inaccurate information on their listings.
  • Make sure that your business rank on local map packs along with the SERPs.
  • Include the opening and closing time, and mention if you are closed on a holiday or a particular event during your business hours.
  • Encourage your clients to leave genuine reviews and respond to their feedback. It helps you forge lasting client relationships and demonstrates you value your customer’s feedback.
  • Include photos of your business, products, and services you offer. It makes your business more approachable, enhancing its local visibility.

Things to include in your GMB listing:

  • Enter complete data without keyword stuffing

 Add accurate details in GMB Profile

  • Verify locations

Add the appropriate address in GMB Profile

  • Keep opening hours accurate

Add the opening hours accurately

  • Manage and respond to reviews

Reviews and Response on GMB profile

  • Add photos

Add Photos on GMB Profile


The steps to improve your ranking on local map packs remain the same: adhere to Google’s recommendations and build organic influence on local markets.

It is too early to see how the Vicinity update paves off. However, keeping your Google My Business listing up to date with accurate information without stuffing keywords would be wise.

Google will continue to update its local search algorithm to enhance its user experience leaving businesses no choice but to adapt to the changing landscape.

Have you noticed a fluctuation in your local pack ranking due to the Vicinity update? Let us know all about it in the comments below!