Google didn’t actually brand the their newest Sep 1st algorithm update possum, it was a nickname dubbed by the local SEO guru’s who have seen that online business owners ‘Google My Business’ listings happen to be ‘playing possum’.
Let’s dig into this more. Many experts believe this update’s focal point was to diversify local results with a touch of additional spam filtering. Here are 3 of 5 specific’s over from Joy Hawkins over in SearchEngineLand.
1. Businesses that fall outside of the physical city limits saw a huge spike in ranking.
After this update, many businesses like this saw massive increases in their local ranking. Here is an example.
Direct Inspections was a business in Sarasota that I did a consultation for recently. They really wanted to rank for keywords like “home inspector sarasota.” They fell outside of the physical borders of Sarasota and were technically in a census-designated place (CDP) called Gulf Gate Estates. Like most of these cases, their mailing address is in Sarasota.
On August 6, they ranked #31 locally for “Home Inspector Sarasota,” and I came to the conclusion that ranking for keywords like that was a lost cause without an address inside the physical city limits. We have lots of clients in this scenario and have seen that even after years of doing the right things, their local ranking just doesn’t budge for those types of keywords.
After the update, their ranking jumped to position 10 (Yes, an increase of 21 positions). We saw the exact same patterns for all other businesses we tracked that fell into this category.
2. Google is now filtering based on address and affiliation.
Previously, we would often see a local filter applied to the local results that filtered out profiles that shared a similar phone number or domain.
Since this update, we are seeing a lot of businesses filtered out due to the address of the business being the same as another listing in their same category (same type of business). Here is an example.
You search “personal injury attorney palmdale,” and you get 16 results in the Local Finder. There are at least five listings using the address 1008 W Ave, Palmdale, CA, that are all personal injury attorneys. Currently, one is showing in the Local Finder and the other four are filtered:
- Stefyan Law Firm — showing
- DeVille Law Group Inc — filtered
- iAccidentLawyer — filtered
- Nadrich & Cohen — filtered
- Wilshire Law Firm — filtered
Broland over on the Local Search Forum pointed out that you can see the filtered listings if you just slightly zoom in on the map in the Local Finder. When I do that for this query, I now get 61 results — and most of the filtered results I referenced above are now showing.
This information helped me confirm that Google is a bit more sophisticated than just looking at the address you enter in Google My Business (GMB).
(On that note, many have tried to escape the filter by simply adding a suite number. This has not worked on any case I’ve looked at.)
3. The physical location of the searcher is more important than it was before.
A company contacted us for a consultation, worried about this algorithm update. They noticed that a ton of their locations were no longer ranking in the 3-pack. When we looked into it, it turned out that since they were searching from their head office in Alabama, they were seeing something totally different than a user down in Texas, where one of the businesses was located.
The business was in Richland Hills, Texas, and the farther away you got from the city when searching, the more zoomed out the map got, and the more the listing dropped in ranking as a result. They were seeing the business as being seventh on the list for a [service + city] keyword in Alabama, whereas a user in Richland Hills, Texas, would have seen the listing as first.
It seems that since this update, it’s more important than ever to make sure the searcher location is set to the right city when tracking ranking. A tool that allows you to do that is this one by Bright Local.
This is incredibly valuable valuable insight for anyone that is currently engaged in SEO. Read about the other two takeaways here –> SearchEngineLand
See you next time fellow marketer
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