Google “Possum” Update + Using Google Sites

Google Possum Update

Google Possum Updates

Google Possum UpdateAs we all know, Google has recently rolled out, and as far as we’re concerned and what we have seen with our data it’s still rolling out as of the first part of October.  If you have been in the SEO game for any length of time, you know that when Google releases the latest animal its either a really good thing or a really bad thing, depending on your SEO strategy.

At 01MG we are constantly experimenting, testing and playing around with things.  With our experimental sites we tend to be a lot more cavalier and bold with our tactics than we are with our client sites and with our site.  So we have seen mixed results depending on which tactics we were using on a given site.  Hopefully we can give you some updates and some pointers based on our findings.

So Google Rolled out and Update…Now What?

1) Don’t panic:
Typically, when Google rolls out an update there will be wild and frankly weird search engine results displayed until the roll out is done or has settled down a bit .
For example: Below is a screenshot for the search term “Chiropractor Schaumburg Illinois”.

local seo
Notice anything weird?  

We sure did.

This is primo real estate when it comes to ranking well in Google. This is the proverbial Snack Pack. The Snack Pack that used to be called the 7 pack (for obvious reasons) and got reduced to three listings several months ago.  These slots are highly competitive and extremely valuable to business owners.  For one, they are the most visually prominent listings on the page.  Even with all the ads that sit above it, these have more visual weight and people like shiny objects, so you know they are gonna click on it.

The second component is mobile.  We have written ad nausea about the importance of mobile and this essentially proves our point.  On a mobile device, the snack pack listings are, again more prominent and they are above the fold on the user’s device.  More visibility equals more clicks which typically means more phone calls.   Additionally, the snack pack listings have the added functionality of click to call and click for directions.

So to reiterate, this is extremely valuable real estate in the Google landscape.   The screen cap from above was taken during the peak of the recent roll out that most of the SEO was affectionately calling the Possum Update.

Which begs the question of why would Google rank a site called “m” ?  It’s either a mistake and over site or a weird A/B testing thing that Google threw in the mix  just to see what happened.  It’s puzzling given that Google has a very specific set of expectations and guidelines for what they deem as a “quality website”.   Based on what we know, this would mean that this sites’ title tag is simply the letter “m”.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense from a logic perspective.

The other thing of note is the lack of reviews.  While it is not completely out of the norm to see sites in the snack pack with no reviews, the combination of a single letter as the website title and no reviews doesn’t really make sense?

 

Does it?

 

Additionally, it’s subtle but the listing above that one in the snack pack has the name of the keyword misspelled.  This is again really incongruent with Google’s typical behavior of auto suggesting and auto correcting nearly everything you type…particularly with their own properties.  The information in the snack pack is largely drawn from a business’s Google My Business listing.  So, following that logic, Google verified and approved both a business with the name of “m”  as well as a business with a misspelling of the profession.

Such is the weirdness of a Google update.

 

2)When an update rolls out, the natural inclination is to jump in and start “fixing” things. Adding more links, prompting more social activity and adding more content.  As difficult as it is to resist trying to fix a perceived problem, we typically stand pat and don’t do anything out of the normal business process…tweeting, adding a blog post etc.

Think about it

If Google is showing weird results during/after an algorithm update and you immediately react to it and change something significantly, they are going to notice.  They will notice the difference in your site by comparing data pre-crawl and post crawl of the algorithm update.   It sucks to sit patiently and watch as your rankings flip flop like a spawing salmon, but our advice is don’t touch it.
spawing salmon

 

How do you make your sites future proof ?

We always rely on a back to the basics approach
We tend to stick with the usual suspects…..Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.  As of late we have started really focusing on Google and their properties.

Lots of SEO’s out there are unaware that you can build  out an entire website on sites.google.com.   Yup, you can build a Google website for zero cost for hosting and you can actually rank it as well.  Google loves their own stuff, so the more you post on it and around it and link to, the better chances you have to build up the authority of your main website.   For years a lot of people that were “in the know” wrote off Google My Business and Google Plus as dead in the water and death from Facebook.

Not true. 

In order to rank well, especially in the local space you HAVE to have your Google properties in order.   Our intern was digging around and found a really well done suite of Google properties from and IT firm based out of Kansas City.   They have offices in St.Louis as well, but let’s have a look at what they are doing to rank for Computer Support Kansas City.

Google Checklist| What They Are Doing Well:

1) Optimized Google My Business
2) Active and consistent posting on Google Plus
3) Well done sites.google.com website. In this case they are optimized for Computer Support Kansas City.  We suspect that they grab additional keywords based on the way they set this site up.
4) Google Maps on their website for both addresses with great schema.org info included.

 

In closing, if you aren’t leveraging Google properties, you should.  For more info on how to do this…ironically… you should Google it   J