Google News with Kelsey Hinkle

Every so often we like to feature a different voice here on the CWS Blog, and today, we have the pleasure of hearing from our Search Services Specialist, Kelsey Hinkle, on some recent changes Google has made that you should know about! Read on to learn more.

The gravity of Google for businesses online is hard to put into words as its algorithm is constantly becoming more intelligent and more attuned to consumer and business needs. We think it is highly important that our dealers are educated on this topic given the weight it has on your online visibility and ratings.

Google Algorithm Updates

There are 2 key updates Google recently made to its ranking algorithm. The first is known as ‘Possum’- a local SEO change that occurred September 1st of this year. The second was a change to an already-existing update called ‘Penguin’. We want to lay out everything you need to know about the effects of these 2 recent updates on Google’s algorithm, and how these changes affect your online presence:


The ‘Possum’ update has not yet been publicly acknowledged by Google which some speculate means they’re still testing its effectiveness. However, search savvy professionals have made some key observations about the changes Possum is bringing:

  • New Proximity Test Helps Businesses Just Outside of City Limits
    • Before Possum, if a business’s address was just outside of a city, it could not rank when that business type was searched by the adjacent city name. Now, a proximity test will result in businesses close enough to the city limits to rank when that adjacent city name is searched with its business type.
  • Filtering out Duplicate Addresses
    • Before Possum, Google had filtered businesses with duplicate phone numbers or domain names, now they have added the filtering of duplicate addresses. This primarily affects businesses with multiple practices who will likely see only one practice or business name result when searched. This filter doesn’t only apply to local search but also to organic search, which since the Possum update, are now operating separately.
  • Mobile Usage Causes IP Location to Weigh More Heavily than Search Terms
    • With Google’s focus on creating the best mobile experience possible, their Possum update shifted the search results in favor of the physical location of the searcher. Therefore, if you are searching for a business in Alabama from your computer in Texas the Google Map radius will have expanded, and the search results will have narrowed. The smaller the distance between you and the intended business kind, the more results featured within that surrounding area.
  • Increased Sensitivity to Keyword Changes
    • What is probably Possum’s most menial change is the increased sensitivity of keyword results. For example, by rearranging the search for “dentists in Chicago” to “Chicago dentist” your results will likely vary.

What this means for you is that the physical address cited by Google My Business is crucial, as it is now the primary factor in drawing local prospects to visit your store. Also understand that as Google filters what it sees as duplicate businesses, so commercial dealers with several storefronts should be wary of competing for search ranking due to filtering.

Penguin 4.0

Google first launched the ‘Penguin’ update in April 2012, to catch the use of inorganic backlinks- purchasing or placing spammy links that direct back to their website- for the sole reason to improve rankings. Penguin 4.0 will deliver penalties for doing this in real-time, as they see it happening. Google points out that, “Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site”. This means, however, Google won’t detect any changes and/or getting rid of bad links until the next time it indexes (analyzes) the website, which is usually every 30-45 days.  

What this means for you is that Google is determined to continue penalizing pages for inorganic backlinks as often as it can. Therefore, true organic links to your website will have a greater chance of being accessed, while the false links are disarmed.

Thank you, Kelsey, for this valuable information!

As Google continues to increase the intelligence of their search engine for the good of those who use it ethically, it is increasingly important for our dealers to know how to wield its power well. For more information on how to increase your visibility and ratings on search engines, contact us at marketing@commercialwebservices.com, and let us help you get your website optimized!


Sarah Gallagher

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