Earlier this week, search giant Google confirmed rumours that it had released an update to its search engine last month that had an effect on local search results.
The latest update has been given the name ‘November 2019 Local Search Update’, and this began to take effect in early November. It has now been fully rolled out with the main point of the update being the application of neural matching to all local search results.
According to Google, neural matching is an artificial intelligence system the company began to use in 2018, predominately to understand the relationships between words and concepts. It describes it as a “super-synonym system”.
Neural matching helps Google to get a better understanding of the meanings behind search queries and allows it to match them up to businesses that are the most relevant to those searches. This would be the case even if the keywords used in the search query are not included specifically in the description or name of the business.
Google confirmed the update in a series of tweets on Monday.
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…
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) December 2, 2019
It said that by using neural matching, it can do a better job at moving beyond the exact words searched for to conceptually understand how it can be related to a business and the user’s intents.
This means that some business listings may now appear for searches that it may not have done previously. Google highlights that whilst the update has now been fully rolled out, the results that appear for local searches are not set in stone, and just as with regular search results, these can change in time.
The company has not stated the extent to which the local search results will be impacted as a result of the November update, but it has been confirmed as a global launch across all languages and countries.
Neural matching can be seen as another step to Google understanding more than just the words that are entered into the search bar, similar to the BERT update of October. Google continues to advise that businesses should ensure that the content they post to their websites remains relevant to the searchers’ needs.