A huge Google algorithm change occurred on 1st September 2016. The update, known by many as “Possum”, has had a big impact on local search results. This shows that they are trying to provide more value for people who use the search engine to look for businesses in their local area. Some have been rewarded by the update and seen an improvement in their rankings; others have lost out as a result.
One of the most alarming results of the update is that some businesses have seen their local listings disappear. In many cases this is not true. Google is simply being more selective and trying to avoid duplicating results. Many listings can still be seen by looking closer on local maps and zooming in.
Some businesses have seen their listings disappear in actuality though. This has occurred because Google is filtering out similar providers to offer a broader search result for users. As a result businesses in close proximity offering the same services as competitors may disappear. This has had the biggest impact on office buildings where several companies may be based.
Google has also been filtering listings to address companies in an area who have a similar name. It is reducing these so that search results are more accurate. Confusion can arise due to similarities in names so the filter will tackle the problem hopefully.
A second big change is that Google is now working hard to include business listings outside of city limits. Before the update those businesses with addresses beyond of the boundaries of cities could find themselves failing to appear because they are not classed as local. This has changed now though, seeing many businesses based in these areas enjoying ranking improvements.
A third result of the update is that keyword ordering has become more selective. Typically the order of keywords in the search had little impact on the results. For example searching for a plumber in London would reveal similar results if you had the city name first. Now there are larger variations.
The boost to local SEO can cause a few problems for companies who focus on national keywords. Before the update both algorithms would work side by side. Now local businesses may be rewarded at the expense of those people who don’t use geographical locations. It is yet to be seen if smaller businesses will eat into the rankings of larger companies though.
The Google algorithm update certainly does show that there is value in local SEO. It could see a number of companies readdressing their strategies, particularly if they can enjoy big boosts in their rankings as a result.