[Openness] Google Confirms Open Hours As Key Local Search Ranking Factor

[Openness] Google Confirms Open Hours As Key Local Search Ranking Factor
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Having accurate openness or “working hours” listed on your Google Business Profile (GBP) is more important than ever for local search visibility. In a welcome move, Google has placed greater emphasis on whether a business is truly open as a ranking factor. Listings with incorrect or outdated hours now risk plummeting in local search and Maps.

Why “Openness” Matters?

At a recent conference, Googler Gary Illyes confirmed that openness and accurately reflecting operating hours are stronger signals in the local search ranking algorithm.

For non-navigational queries like “restaurants open now” or “coffee shops near me,” Google wants to showcase open, operational businesses. So if your hours are outdated or wrong, your GBP is penalized with lower visibility.

<blockquote> “We try to strongly prioritize showing open businesses in Local searches for queries where a user’s immediate need is to find someplace to visit now.” – Gary Illyes, Google </blockquote>

Closed or permanently shuttered businesses naturally rank lower. But even listings with wrong hours get demoted, frustrating searchers. So optimizing and monitoring your hours is now vital for local SEO.

The openness of a business plays a crucial role in local search rankings.

Why Accurate Business Hours or Openness Matter?

Displaying accurate open hours in local search results benefits everyone:

  • Searchers see more open options meeting their needs, reducing dead ends.
  • Businesses earn more visibility and traffic by reflecting real-world availability.
  • Google reduces result frustration and improves trust in its data.

Improved Local Search Visibility

Listings with the correct current hours, especially for prime operating times, receive a visibility boost. This impacts appearance in both the local pack and Maps pin rankings.

Conversely, wrong hours can drastically hurt visibility. If Google thinks your outdated Saturday morning hours mean you’re closed, that listing drops like a rock. Leaving holiday closures unmarked similarly reduces rankings.

Avoid Customer Frustration

Searching customers rely on accuracy to choose where to spend money. If they visit your GBP or Maps pin only to find you’re closed contrary to listed hours, that risks losing their business forever. They’ll simply proceed to the next option.

Maintaining updated hours earns you the trust and patronage of both existing and new local customers. Don’t let faulty information cost you sales.

Steer Clear of Suspension Risks

Purposely inflating your hours or falsely claiming to be open 24/7 now carries suspension risks. Google will monitor and verify your hours, potentially sending anonymous checkers. So any exaggeration or deception gets punished. Stick to listing your true availability.

Steps to Optimize Local Search Rankings

Here are best practices to maximize your business’s local search and Maps presence:

  • Update openness across Google platforms when needed, down to the minute. Include special dates like holidays.
  • Spot check accuracy, especially on weekends. Don’t let old hours linger.
  • Mark closures in advance whenever possible, even for one-off days.
  • Use reporting tools to monitor local packs and identify ranking drops, then diagnose why.
  • Respond to user-submitted edits if they flag incorrect hours. This shows you stay on top of fresh information.

Ways to Enhance Your Local Search Presence

Beyond openness, a few other signals can amplify your Google local visibility:

  • Earn positive local reviews to demonstrate customer satisfaction.
  • Expand online menus, services, photos to showcase what you offer locally.
  • Update GBP name, address and website fields to build citations consistency.
  • Generate links and mentions referencing your location and offerings.

Key Takeaways on Local Search Ranking Factors

Google confirms accurate and current open business hours are a critical local search ranking factor. Listings with incorrect hours now risk reduced visibility.

To maximize local findability:

🟢 Maintain precise open hours on Google, down to the minute.

🟢 Avoid suspension risks by listing real hours, not inflated ones.

🟢 Monitor local search visibility and optimize regularly.

Keeping your business openness or working hours perfectly dialed in takes some extra effort. But the reward of increased local visibility delivers higher engagement and sales from searching customers. Listing accurate open hours should be a top priority for multi-location brands, franchises and SMBs alike.