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Local Memo: Google Confirms, One Week Later, the End of the March Core Update


In this week’s post, learn about the end of Google’s March Core Update; Google’s AI-powered business descriptions; how to optimize photos for local SEO; and Apple’s move to let businesses add links to their Apple Business Connect Profiles. 


Google Confirms, One Week Later, the End of the March Core Update


The News


In a post on the X platform on April 26, Google announced that the March Core Update was over, having ended on April 19. No explanation was given as to why the notice appeared 7 days after the end of the rollout. The March Core Update was one of the longest, and most impactful, core updates in the Google search algorithm in recent memory, causing many sites to gain or lose rank as part of Google’s attempt to reduce the incidence of, in the company’s words, “low-quality, unoriginal results.” Google claims to have reduced this type of content by 45%, compared to its goal of a 40% reduction.


Why This Matters


Google has sent a clear signal that low-quality content, much of it generated via AI, will be penalized. The emphasis here is on low quality, not AI. Some SEOs have been too eager to embrace quick wins with AI by building out pages that are not reflective of a site’s core purpose or that are otherwise created just to rank. Don’t do that. 




Google’s AI-Powered Business Descriptions Are Broadly Available


The News


We’ve noticed that AI-powered business descriptions are now broadly available in the Google Business Profiles interface, having been released in 2023 as an experimental feature. Google has also updated its help documentation to explain this feature, encouraging users to “quickly create an engaging, AI-powered description for your business.” You can either click a “Suggest description” button and have Google’s AI generate a description from scratch, or else draft a description and then click the button for Google to improve it. Google encourages users to add plenty of detail to their business profiles so that descriptions will have sufficient inputs. Some users may not yet see this feature. 


Why This Matters


It’s important, in light of the penalties against some AI content noted in the previous item, to be clear that Google is not against the use of AI in local marketing or elsewhere — in fact, the company is promoting its own version of AI in cases where it can save time and provide helpful content to consumers. Note, too, that Google wants rich, detailed business profiles to power its AI tools. Businesses that focus on deep profile optimization will be better positioned to compete as AI makes inroads into search. 



How to Get the Most Out of Photos for Local SEO


The News


Phil Rozek has published a quick, useful guide to publishing photos on web pages in order to gain local SEO benefits. Rozek’s focus is not on image quality or photographic skills, but rather on tactical steps whereby photos gain gain SEO benefits like higher and broader ranking in local searches and, in some cases, visibility in other contexts like Google Images.


Rozek recommends some key tactics, like using keywords to name your images, optimizing alt and title attributes, compressing image sizes, and avoiding fancy display tools such as lightboxes that may make images harder for search engines to process. There are quite a few more tactics covered in the full post. 


Why This Matters


Photos matter in local SEO. Rozek’s focus is local business pages, but he also says it’s a good idea to ensure the same photos you publish on your website are uploaded to your Google Business Profiles. As we know, Google will display photo content in many search result contexts, and businesses with good photos will often win out over those without. 



Apple Lets Businesses Add Links


The News


Apple will now allow businesses to add links of various types to their profiles via Apple Business Connect. Previously, links in profiles were required to connect to another app, but this requirement has been lifted. Several options are available, such as Schedule, Services, Availability, Quote, and Tickets. Links seem to appear as icons in the Apple Maps profile. 


Why This Matters


Apple continues to build out functionality in order to make business profiles more useful to consumers — and more competitive for businesses who may win out if they display useful features others don’t.




Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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