After the Possum update in 2016, the month of November marked the biggest ranking shift in Local SEO. With the Possum update, the Local Search industry saw its first big Proximity update by Google. This shift enables SEO experts to develop tools and strategies considering ‘location’ as a pivotal aspect in ranking.  The recent update (dubbed as Bedlam), too, indicates that Google will be focusing more on proximity.

Key Observations From The Bedlam Update

  • The results aren’t industry-specific. They have and still are shifting across the board.
  • There were HUGE Google Maps ranking changes noticed on November 5th.
  • Since November 7th, the Organic Local Search results began to change as well.
  • Things began settling into the new normal from November 10th, when some of the changes were rolled back.
  • Most changes that this update brought were mainly on the zip codes the business was NOT located in, with the proximity dial being turned up.
  • More changes were added by Google back into the Local Pack changing them back to 3-packs from 1-packs that we’ve been seeing.
  • This wasn’t a spam update at all. However, it has uncovered a lot more spam listings, which is a part and parcel of big changes like these.
  • If found to be too close to another similar business or if they share the same name or phone number with another location, Google My Business listings are being filtered out.

Final Takeaway

1. When big changes like these take place, you only need to sit back and wait for things to settle down a little bit.

2. Check out your local rankings using our dashboard and get a hold of the changes that have taken place to see what impact they have had or will have on your business. To see what the different results look like to users from different locations, you can use browser addons.

3. When you see legitimate Google Maps spam listings competing with you, don’t forget to report them to Google.

4. Without a legitimate business location, you will not be able to continue ranking in those further away areas you’ve lost since the update. You will have to design your strategies accordingly to include other referrers for those areas that don’t include Google. For instance, you could start a series of targeted Facebook ads for users who are in your competitors’ locations by offering them a ‘second opinion’ or a ‘free consultation’.

As always, we are here to help. If you are facing any issues with your local campaign, do get in touch with our experienced personnel for assistance. We’re just a call away!