The Google search algorithm is a mystery to most small businesses. Since Google doesn’t publish the criteria for its search rankings, many small business owners are left in the dark regarding how to make sure their company ranks high in customer searches. Adding to this problem is the fact that Local Searches are given such a high position in the search results, and there is, most likely, a different algorithm just for these results. Just recently, Google has changed their algorithm with an emphasis on local search results, and Milwaukee small businesses might see a drastic change in their rankings.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts have dubbed this new update, “Possum.” The Possum update changes the way that Google presents its local search results to users, and many businesses will either see their rankings change drastically. To understand this better, business owners need to learn about how local searches are shown to users.

Google Local Business SearchWhat are local search results?

Local searches show up when most users search for businesses near their location. Maybe you want to know what restaurants are near you. Perhaps you need a good plumber, and you have no idea which plumbers to trust. Google presents these results, with reviews, phone numbers, store hours, and other useful bits of info to the user so they can make a smart choice on who to contact, or what store to go to.

What has changed?

With Possum, Google is attempting to refine their search so that users aren’t flooded with information that is deemed “spam” or businesses that are further away than they need to go. The first major update is with filtering spam results. You may have noticed that when you search for lawyers or doctors in your area, you are given a list with multiple lawyers or doctors that are all in the same building and work for the same office. This is great for the office featured, but those other small businesses that get left out are hurt because of it. Possum attempts to clear that up by eliminating those duplicate listings so that more businesses are featured and those duplicates are further down the list.

The second major update is with location. If a user searched for “restaurants in Milwaukee,” they would be given a list of eateries that are in the Milwaukee city limits. Unfortunately, if this user is in Wauwatosa, they may drive by your restaurant to get to the ones in the downtown area. Now, with the update, if that user types in that same search, they are given results that are much more personalized. They may want to search Milwaukee and the surrounding area because they’re actually in Wauwatosa. So, Google has decided to start showing those businesses closest to where the user actually is located.

How does this affect my small business?

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just have a business profile on Google. You need to make sure it’s optimized and updated consistently to ensure that Google understands that your business is the best in the area.

So, how does your small business make sure you are located at the top of these lists? With the help of a smart, qualified SEO expert. Your small business can’t afford to be left behind when Google updates their search engine. However, as a business owner, your focus should be on making sure your business is running at its full potential, and you may not have time to read all the blogs and learn all the details. That’s where your SEO expert comes in. That expert can look at your website, and your social media profiles, and optimize them so that you’re not left behind.

If you have more questions about this topic, or you’re interested in speaking to qualified SEO experts who can help your business, call Debra Lopez Public Relations today. We are a Milwaukee-based PR company that understands digital marketing. So, let’s work together to grow your small business!