Google just announced a myriad of changes to various elements of search. Below I am highlighting the ones that relate to LOCAL SEO and Google Places.

Search quality highlights: 40 changes for February

Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.

Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.

Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.

Am not sure if all these changes have been rolled out or are in the process of going live.

The 1st update, called Venice, sounds like the algo is putting even more emphasis on organic ranking factors! Also sounds like the backlink algo changed.

Have not checked my client ranking reports to see if there are any noticeable changes. But just did a quick spot check of results I’ve recently checked and don’t see any changes so far. Sure am glad however than I’ve shifted my efforts away from citations and over to on-site SEO. Sounds like that will serve my clients well.

LET ME KNOW IF YOU SEE ANY CHANGES by commenting below.