SEO - Search Engine Optimization

Taming the local search beast in a post-Possum and Fred world

Last Updated: May 25, 2017 1

It’s estimated that 46 percent of all searches performed on Google have a local intent, and the Map Pack appears for 93 percent of these. In September 2016 Google unveiled a new local search algorithm, dubbed Possum, and it pretty much went unnoticed in comparison to the real-time Penguin update released in the same month. In short, Possum made it harder for businesses to fake being in locations that they’re not (through the likes of virtual offices), as well as tackling Google My Business spam. Possum, however, isn’t a “single” algorithm update, as it affected both localized search results as well as the Map Pack, which of course are two separate algorithms both triggered by search queries that are interpreted as having a local search intent. The Google “Fred” update, which hit SERPs back in March, has also had an impact on local search, much like the Phantom updates before it. A lot of local SERPs are extremely spammy, where websites have been built cheap and location names have been liberally applied to every menu link and keyword on the page, such as this home page sidebar menu: This of course, is only a snapshot of the page – the menu and tile icons go on a lot more. Spam such as this still ranks on page one, because Google still has to provide results to its users. Take advantage of the market conditions A lot of locally-focused websites aren’t built by agencies; the vast majority tend to be self-built or built by bedroom level developers who can churn out a full website for £300 (or less). Some verticals have seen some significant online investment in recent years, while others lag behind considerably. By investing in a good website and avoiding the same spammy tactics of your competitors, you can create a powerful resource offering user value that Google will appreciate. Directory submissions and citations Just to be clear, I’m not talking about just backlinks. Recent studies have shown that citations with a consistent NAP (Name, Address & Phone number) are important to both local algorithms. There is no magic number to how many directory submissions you should have, but they need to be relevant. I’ve worked on local campaigns in the UK where they have been previously submitted to directories in Vietnam, Thailand and Australia. Yes, it’s a backlink, but it’s not relevant in the slightest. Think local with your directories, and exhaust those before moving onto national ones. The number of local directories should also outweigh the nationals were possible. To do this properly, it’s a manual process and to ensure quality it can’t be automated. Reviews Review volume, velocity and diversity factors are important, and in my…

Source: Taming the local search beast in a post-Possum and Fred world

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Dan Taylor

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