September: A Busy Month for Google

Google rolled out some interesting updates impacting small business in the 3-pack in September.  Many small businesses started seeing a shift around September 1.  This updated was dubbed the “Possum” update.  (Gotta’ love the creativity for the name selection!  🙂 )  In this update, both organic and local pack URLs moved significantly.

Possum represents a combination of some big Google changes in it’s ranking filter.  This update doesn’t penalize a site’s pages.  However, many site owners did notice listings in the SERPS that have shown up previously.

Also, in the month of September, Google rolled out Penguin 4.0.  In the past, penalties were awarded and it generally took some period of time to recover from a Penguin penalty.  However, with Penguin 4.0, Google would refresh in real-time.  Therefore, webmasters will see real-time changes as problematic links are eliminated.

It should be recognized that Penguin is/was designed to focus on spammy links from undesirable sites, link building networks, irrelevant sites, over-optimized anchor text links and paid links.

Unnatural links can be detected through looking at SEMRUSH or the SEOMOZ open site explorer and looking at the quality of the links.  No doubt – it’s worth doing an audit to see if you have these types of links in your profile.  And, it’s worth reaching out to site owners to get them eliminated, if you have some of these.

The Possum update is very focused on local businesses.  Some businesses may, fact, see a boost to rankings if they are outside of the physical city limits that they are trying to rank for.  In the past, I had advised local businesses to look into “other options” for finding businesses addresses within the city limits of where they are trying to rank for.  That’s no longer essential.  Having a well-optimized presence for a local metropolitan area may now be enough.

The Possum update also targets businesses that share addresses with other businesses.  It’s more important than ever to have a unique address for you business.  Say goodbye to the business  center or suite that can be used for a common address.  It’s very important now to have a unique address and ensure that that address is now listed in many local business resources and directories.  Also, you should look at adding images and videos to those listings.  And, as always, reviews are very important.

Being aware of these recent algorithmic updates will allow you to stay ahead of the game and future proof your site.


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