Last month Google quietly released a big update to their search engine Local algorithm, dubbed the ‘Possum’ update by the SEO community.
The update helps show web users local results when they are searching for goods and services near their location.
Possum Update: The Overview
Have you ever searched online for ‘cafes near me’ or ‘closest grocery store’? Often, these sort of searches happen when users are on the go and looking for the closest food/drink/shopping/dentist and so on near to them. Searches that involve some reference to your location, AKA ‘near me’ searches, have been growing wildly in popularity. Well, Google has been paying attention.
In general, local results being prioritised over others is nothing new. That’s why you’ll usually see .co.nz results rather than .com or .co.uk when you search online from NZ. Likewise, businesses with an Auckland location aren’t going to do as well in Christchurch search results and vice versa.
However, this new update deals specifically with Local results – using all of the data they can find, Google will work out your location and help show your website or Google Maps listing when it is most relevant to a nearby user.
Since the update, the Local search results also seem to differ more from the regular organic results. This means that searching ‘website design services near me’ or ‘website design services Takapuna’ will show different results compared to searching ‘website design services’. On the whole, this is good news – it means small businesses will have a chance to show up in search results to users close by, rather than being overshadowed by the big players of their industry with a bigger web presence.
On the flip side, since Local results will now vary even more depending on your location, remember that you won’t be able to check your search rankings accurately unless you’re in the location you want to check up on. Or, we can help you with SEO tools to help check your local rankings in multiple towns and cities.
What Do I Need to Do?
You may be asking at this point – how does this update affect my business? As we said, this is good news for small businesses who service a particular location – but you’ll need to ensure your website has the right signals on it for Google to help prioritise your website in Local search results.
Add NAP Details to your website – Name, Address, Phone Number
This is an easy one which all businesses should have online. Put your contact details across every platform you use, including your website, Google My Business/Google Maps, and social media profiles. Ensure your details are the same and are accurate across all platforms. In addition, add your opening hours to your Google My Business page.
Add Schema.org details to your website
Schema markup is a worldwide-recognised way of labelling various content on your website for Google and other search engines to use. Have you ever searched a big company and had their logo, name and company blurb turn up on the right hand side of your search results page? A fair bit of that data comes from schema markup.
Get the above sorted and you should experience a lift in search engine rankings for Local results. For further reading about the Possum update, Search Engine Land have a detailed report (Google haven’t released anything official about this update, so the report is based on expert SEOs watching search engine results very carefully).
If you’d like some help setting up your Google My Business page or adding schema.org markup to your website, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.