Google says it’s relying more on regular search rankings — ergo, on traditional SEO — to influence its local search results. This is from Google’s latest monthly roundup of search changes and covers what’s been happening during 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.
It’s important to note that Google uses the word “triggering” above — regular search rankings/results play a bigger role in determining when Local Universal results will show up. It doesn’t specifically say that there’s a ranking impact, but traditional SEO already became much more important to Google’s local rankings since the Google Places Search rollout in October 2010. Places Search has gone through a lot of evolution since then, but on-page SEO remains a key piece of the local search puzzle.
In its announcement today, Google also says it has “a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably.” That means Google can better “detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.”
I wrote more about all of Google’s announcements over on Search Engine Land.