GOOGLE CONSIDERS BUSINESS HOURS AS A LOCAL PACK RANKING SIGNAL
Recently, SterlingSky revealed that Google uses business hours of operation like “whether a business is currently open” as a ranking signal for local pack rankings. When this was brought forward on X, Google search liaison Danny Sullivan confirmed that “openness” is indeed a ranking signal.
He says, “The team tells me we’ve long used “openness” as part of our local ranking systems, and it recently became a stronger signal for non-navigational queries. This might change in various ways, as we continue to evaluate the usefulness of it, however.”
When a question was raised to clarify what a “non-navigational” query is? He replied, “If you were searching for a name of a business, that would generally be that you wanted to navigate/find that particular business. If you were searching for a general topic, that’s non-navigational.”
Several people pointed out the flaws in this approach.
Someone said, “Not true. What if you’re looking for a place to eat lunch tomorrow? Or a place to have a drink when you’re on your trip this weekend? Now, searching at night, it’s not accurate or meeting my intent .”
To this, Danny replied, “Agreed. Those are good points that I and a few others are discussing with the team. It’s why I said this might change in various ways.”
Many concluded now businesses will likely switch their hours of operation to 24/7 simply to boost their rankings even if they aren’t open all the time.
Danny replied, “Yes, I’ve passed that feedback on to the team already. I wouldn’t recommend businesses do this, given the ranking signal may continue to be adjusted.”
Of course, the fact is that customers looking for open businesses can simply filter the results. Therefore, it’s arguably unnecessary for Google to bake that ranking signal into the Local Pack algorithm. Assuming that the searcher is looking only for businesses that are currently open is not only erroneous, it’s kinda stupid — at least from a “good user experience” point of view.
It seems Google will soon take down this signal ranking; until then, to save your business from getting affected by it, you can research the hours of operation that your competition is posting and then post your hours just a little earlier and a little later if possible.