Does you business depend on customers coming into your business?
Do your customers deal with businesses that are close to them?
Are you a small to mid-sized business that is fighting against a master brand like Amazon or Target?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then Google’s 3-Pack and Local Finder are really important to your business.
It’s looking like there has been an algorithm update to the listings in both the 3-Pack and the Local Finder that is intended to help local businesses.
This update has been named “Possum” and contains a filtering update to listings, as opposed to any site penalties or suspensions, as is often associated with updates.
This is a really important difference because penalties and/or suspensions are very serious actions that are taken by Google against websites that Google believes have violated their guidelines. If your site has been hit by a suspension or penalty you can be removed from the search results page (SERP) until the problems have been fixed.
Because the update appears to only be a change in filtering, sites that were showing up and are no longer showing up, have most likely not been removed but, instead, they have been filtered out.
One of the more important changes that is a result of this Possum update appears to impact businesses that fall outside of the geographical city limits of a major city.
Prior to this update, if a business was outside of a major city’s geographical boundary they would have a nearly impossible time trying to get listed in the 3-Pack of Local Finder on the SERP.
As an example, let’s say that you have a heating and cooling business that is located in Oak Park, Illinois (a suburb just west of Chicago) Chicago, because of its population will be a huge market for your business.
Prior to this update, because your business address was Oak Park, it would be near impossible for you to show up in the Local Finer or the 3-Pack for people, living in Chicago, that did a search for heating and cooling services.
Now with this filtering update, many businesses are seeing massive updates in their LocalSEO rankings.
It appears that this filter update is showing some independence from the organic algorithm that drives the results in the organic section of the SERP. However, a website’s ranking signals for a particular phrase will serve as a “signal” for its ranking in the Local Finder or the 3-Pack listing.
This, now, increases the importance of a website’s organic optimization, even for website’s that aren’t selling anything.
You Are Who You Affiliate With
If your business shared an address, phone number, business type, or domain with another business, it will now be much more difficult for you to show up in local search.
As an example, if you were an attorney in an office building with other attorneys (everyone has the same address) and you shared a receptionist (everyone used the same phone number) then some of you are not going to show up for local searches.
With the most recent algorithm change, the search results may be filtered down to get rid of duplicate results.
These are just a few of the changes that have been recognized with this recent update. As is typically the case, Google will probably continue to make tweaks and modifications to the Local Finder and 3-Pack filter.
The bottom line is, it’s important to track your rankings on a regular basis and be prepared for the continual adjustments that have to be made to stay on top of your competition.