Google has been planning its biggest algorithm update since the year 2016 which will reportedly make businesses a bit more cautious about reducing spam in the required areas. There has been chatter in the local SEO groups that the company’s map rankings were witnessing drops. A few of these drops were significant and spread across various geographies.
While having a conversation, the Search Engine Roundtable came up with the reason behind this problem of rating witnessing a drop. It was found that BrightLocal’s Rank Flux data that is responsible for the detection of fluctuations in the local search went through a series of serious changes over the week.
Google released its biggest local algorithm known as the “Possum” in the year 2016. The newest version may be called Possum 2.0 and might be a tad bit similar to its predecessor.
In 2016, a report by Joy Hawkins about the Possum update mentioned that the user location was, in fact, the most essential local rank signal. After the update was released for the public, it was noticed that most of the time, Google My Business listings came up with options that were geographically near the user that’s performing the search. The impact that this update made shifted how SEOs worked in terms of local.
Some of the features of this update include:
- Drop-in zip codes that the listings, in reality, were not in. In short, these listing were a mix of both genuine and spam.
- The impact of the first roll-out was severe on the ones that were affected and some were removed altogether from the Google Map’s rankings. The algorithm then made adjustments and some of the dropped ones were restored some days later. Maybe, Google later realized that the initial roll-out was a tad bit aggressive.
Now, other things that are worthy of being mentioned are the things that the update is not. These are as follows.
- SAB: Google released a statement on the date of release of the update. This statement explained the update’s ability to let businesses add service areas. The limit of this service area was to be 20 cities, districts, and postal codes per listing. This led to people thinking that this update was concerning SABs but further tests were conducted to prove that it wasn’t.
- Spam: The update also does not affect spam but benefits Google Maps spam. It was seen in the case of the Possum update that as Google increases its proximity strength, it also increases its spam-generating ability to rank in the Google Maps.
- Review: When the update rolled out, there were guesses about it influencing the listings that appeared in the Google Maps. This was later discarded as false news with a huge amount of ill-reviewed spam listing that now shows that they are across the board.
- Industry-specific: There were speculations that the update would target specific industries but that is false as Google does not intend to take an aim at specific industries owing to its local algorithm updates.
Even though Google has not commented on the update yet, experts advise adapting to the changes as they are probably here to stay. There still exist many other things that need to be learned about the update.