Are Google Local results influenced by clicks on local listings? Some local SEOs believe so, and Google briefly confirmed this with a post they made in their help forums. But now that reference is gone, and Google won’t say if clicks are used for local rankings or not.
Rahul J., who is listed as an official Google employee, posted the message earlier this week in the forums. It listed several factors Google uses to rank their local results, the Google My Business listings. One of those factors originally read “Search history: In the past how many times has the listing been clicked on by users searching with the keyword.” Rahul then changed it after the community began talking about this to read “Search history: The number of times it has been useful historically on the basis of relevance, prominence and distance.”
Here are screen shots from before and after:
I asked Google why it was removed, and Google told me because it was inadvertently posted by a Googler. This implies that either the Googler posted incorrect information and then corrected that information or that Google posted information it doesn’t want SEOs and webmasters to know.
Google has told us time and time again that click data and other user engagement data are not used in their core ranking algorithm. But that doesn’t mean Google doesn’t use such data for local rankings. When I spoke to them, Google wouldn’t tell me if click data impacted local rankings. They just told me the new language more accurately describes how the algorithm works.
It is worth noting that Rahul J., the Googler who posted these details, seems new to Google. His forum profile is newly registered, and he has only a couple posts in the forums. So maybe he really posted incorrect information?
I have asked Google to go on the record as to whether they use click data or not for local rankings, and I am awaiting a response on that question.