Are your opening hours affecting your rankings?

How to deal with Google's new ranking factor

Near the end of last year, Joy Hawkins at Sterling Sky posted about her discovery of a new ranking factor: opening hours. She said that when a business closes for the day, their rankings drop dramatically.

This threw much of the Local SEO community into turmoil. The impact of the new ranking factor seemed extreme.

We’ve taken some time to look into the impact of opening hours on your ranks — here are our tips for how you should manage the opening hours of your business in light of this ranking factor.

1. Don’t panic!

While new ranking factors can seem scary, we’ve known about time-of-day ranking fluctuations for a long time (Whitespark published a video about hourly ranking fluctuations back in 2021). Opening hours can be thought of in the same way: your rankings are still changing throughout the day, but this change is a bit more consistent and a bit more manageable.

Our research has shown that this ranking factor has not substantially changed the rankings of businesses during their open hours — if you were ranking well at noon before Google rolled out this update, you’re likely still retaining those rankings and customers are still finding your business.

2. Consider adjusting your hours

There are two approaches you could take with this:

  1. If your business is not a physical location that people go to, you could consider switching your Google Business Profile to 24-hours.

    This gets you a ranking boost throughout all hours of the night, giving you a leg up over your competitors.

    But if you do this, you MUST make sure you have a 24-hour call answering service. If you’re saying you’re open, then customers need to be able to reach you, or they’ll have a bad experience, and you could get negative reviews.

  2. If you can’t set your hours to 24 hours, could you extend your hours?

    If most of your competition closes at 5pm, and you're open until 7pm, then Google will boost your rankings during those 2 hours.

3. Track your rankings at a specific time

Whitespark’s Local Rank Tracker supports gathering results based on a specific time of day. This lets you gather your results when your business is open, and when customers are most likely to be searching for you — it only takes a couple of clicks.

No matter when you choose to gather results, the Local Rank Tracker has all the insights you need in one beautiful dashboard.

As with all the other ranking factors, you can use your knowledge of how opening hours impacts rankings toward the ultimate goal of all search engine optimization: up and to the right 📈!