Not so long ago, Google announced a change to the way Google Maps gathers data. It gave the option to users to opt-out of tracking using an incognito mode. This lets people search for locations, businesses and restaurants on Maps without having their search activity saved. What effect will this have on the ability of businesses to use local SEO correctly?

Why Does Google Maps Matter for Local SEO?

If your business primarily sells to local customers, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to waste time advertising to people living on the other side of the country. Instead of putting your advertising dollars toward traditional search engine optimization, a better solution is to use local SEO. This approach does everything possible to help your website rank on search results when local visitors search for services or products you offer.

A huge part of this process is building your company’s online presence in a way that tells Google, “This is where my business is located and these are my main customers.” Search engines want people performing searches to find products that meet their needs, so local businesses often appear in search results. This is especially true when people use terms such as “best restaurants near me” or “where can I find a plumber?”

Putting time into building out your Google My Business account is well worth it for local search results. Has the change with incognito mode affected the outcome?

What Does Incognito Mode Do for Google Maps?

In simple terms, when people use Maps in incognito mode, their location data and search history isn’t used to offer suggestions. They can still search specific cities and areas using a zip code, but Google doesn’t tie specific users to those searches. Instead, they receive broader results. These users won’t see personalized ads either, which can throw off the results for pay-per-click advertising somewhat.

How Big a Change Is This for Business Owners?

Should you be worried about this change? Only time will tell for sure, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any serious threat to local businesses.

If you’re one of a few companies offering specific services in the local area, there’s a good chance your business will appear anyway for local searches for those services, even with incognito mode enabled.

Another thing to consider is that incognito mode is opt-in, meaning users have to specifically activate it. So far, the majority don’t care enough to go through this effort.