September brought us major updates to the Google local and organic algorithms. I will try to sum it up at a high level here but leave you to read in more depth about Possum and the latest Penguin update.
Firstly, September 1 brought us what the industry is calling the Possum update. This was a change to the local search algorithm that is meant to reduce spam here as well. It is intended to provide more choice in the 3 pack of local businesses that show up and is smarter about multiple listings at the same address and attached to the same website, and will typically filter it out so only one is shown. For businesses with multiple listings, like legal offices with multiple lawyers listed, the listing that is shown, may change by keyword phrase, based on the content of the listing reviews, etc. For example, for two lawyers from the same firm, one may show up for a DUI lawyer search, while another might show up for a divorce lawyer search.
Also, data is coming in that shows that they have updated the distance from centroid part of the algorithm. For years, many businesses have found it impossible to rank for local terms in a city because their physical address may have been just outside the official city boundary. This has become less of a factor so we are seeing many of these businesses that couldn’t crack that top 3, despite doing everything right, and clearly being stronger than some that were inside that circle and didn’t have strong listings, now showing up and seeing much more local traffic coming their way. I know that was a long sentence but I’m an SEO first, and you get the idea.
Secondly, Google updated Penguin this month. This is the piece of the algorithm that addresses link spam and many sites were sitting penalized for years for mistakes or intentional cheating that their SEO’s did a long time ago, sometimes without them knowing it was going on.
This update has made Penguin a real time portion of the algorithm and the major idea is that rather than doing manual penalties (except possibly in extreme cases), Google will just automatically devalue those spammy links and they will not help that page or domain. This is good news for those that have been victims of “Negative SEO” or even tried to spam the engines themselves, without realizing the penalties involved. We are still learning, but now you can move forward and at least start from scratch. Google is saying the disavow tool is not so important anymore, though I think there is some value to telling Google you know this was done and you can plead your case, even if it just makes you feel better and starting with a clean slate.
So now even though you (and negative SEO companies that did it) have just wasted a lot of money and resources on building bad links, at least the site is not dead, and you can start doing it the right way.
By the way, we do it the right way, so give us a call if all of this just seems confusing. We have over a decade of link building relationships, and never were penalized back in the penalty era, for our link building. We just moved our clients forward.