When Google's most recent 'Possum' algorithm update went live in September 2016, there was a lot of movement in local search results for many small businesses.
Now that things are starting to settle down, it's easier to identify what those changes were and how they're affecting local search results for small business.
Local searches now factor affiliate locations
Pre-update, businesses wanting to rank for search terms in nearby or adjacent cities were finding it very difficult to rank.
This was by design as Google tried to make search results much more relevant to a user's location. However it didn't take into account how businesses (and particularly small and local businesses) operate within a region or multiple locations.
Businesses that are located outside of regional or city limits received a significant boost in ranking if they are offering services in those areas.
Search location is more important
Results are now filtered much more strongly based on the location of the user. So if Ben is looking for a service in Yamba, Grafton based businesses are much less likely to show up.
This is important for business owners to understand when checking their rankings that they are using the correct location, and also to ensure they have set up their service area correctly in their Google My Business pages.
Search results vary more
It seems that the local search filter is operating on another layer to the organic search filter with this new update.
This means that there is a lot more variation for keyword results because of the location factor.
Where you previously would have had similar results if you typed in "clarence valley web design" or "business websites clarence valley", you'll now get a lot more fluctuation between similar keywords.
If you haven't reviewed your keyword, service area and Google business details in a little while, now's the time to get started. You'll see significant improvements if all of these factors are covered correctly.
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