Google Updates Local Search Rankings

Working on LaptopThey’re at it again…

Google’s updated the local search results.

They’ve changed the local 3-pack, which shows listings on Google Maps right at the top of what Google considers a “local” search.

Publicly, they’ve not really said anything specific about the update or how it works. They always, if nothing else, get away with saying “we make thousands of updates per year.”

So yes, even Google’s very own engineers don’t really know exactly what the algorithm does at any specific point.

However, local SEOs always take notice because they run their entire businesses on Google’s unpredictable algorithm.

What Are Top SEOs Seeing?

So, when it’s not possible to get a straight story from Google, you have to go to the opinions of SEOs. Many top ones hang out on LocalSearchForum.com.

In general, they’re seeing lots of new companies ranked in the local 3-pack for many types of small and local businesses. For example, that means companies like locksmiths, chiropractors, and so on.

So far, the general thinking is that Google refreshed its spam update to clean manipulative and deceptive websites and SEO practices from the top of its search rankings.

What Does Google Consider “Spam?”

You have to remember Google’s not perfect. Sometimes, they knock perfectly legitimate websites out of their search results.

And, there’s little you can do about it sometimes. So, to protect yourself, you can do 3 things:

  1. Rely on more than just organic search to get business (consider AdWords, Facebook, LinkedIn, and offline marketing to extend your internet marketing)
  2. Try to rank for a number of different keywords so you gain some positions when you lose others
  3. Avoid anything that Google could remotely consider “spam”

What might Google consider “spam” in 2016?

The following things:

  1. Using too many keywords on any one page (keyword stuffing)
  2. Placing your exact keywords in links that point to your site (overoptimized anchor text)
  3. Very low-quality content that doesn’t make basic sense when read or contains lots of grammar errors and typos
  4. Lots of spammy comments on your blog (ones that only exist to gain a link and don’t add value to the conversation)
  5. Sites hacked and used for spammy purposes by dishonest persons
  6. Duplicate content (this can happen unintentionally on WordPress sites)

At the end of the day, Google wants good, clean sites that offer valuable information and services. They want the types of sites that searchers want.

So, focus on making your website as useful and interesting to your user as possible, and you’ll be just fine, regardless of the update that hits.

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