September saw major changes for not one, but two of Google’s algorithms: Penguin and the more recent Possum.

At the end of last month, Google announced the latest Penguin update which is one of the algorithms used by Google to analyse link value for websites, whilst the Possum algorithm seems to be an algorithm update for local search results.

What’s different about Penguin 4?

Before Google used to run Penguin separately from its normal crawls, at certain intervals. Now, due to the latest update, Penguin has been incorporated into Google’s core algorithm and it’s become one of the over 200 signals used by Google to determine rankings in search results.

But that’s not all! Besides, becoming applicable in real-time, the latest Penguin update is also a lot more granular and instead of analysing and affecting websites at the domain level, it is now examining links at page or even link levels, removing the link value from spammy links. This means that it’s become more important than ever before to review the link profile of your website and ensure that you are only achieving high quality links, as well as continuing to disavow bad, spammy links, preferably before Google’s Penguin finds them.

Possum and Local Search

A major algorithm that has been having a significant impact on local search rankings, Possum seems to be used by Google to prioritise local brick and mortar businesses which have optimised websites, more than ever before.

Before, Google used to prioritise the most popular locations, so city centres would appear more often than businesses on the outskirts of a town, for example. Due to Possum, we should see Google placing more emphasis on the location of the user, instead of the popularity of a location, which can be good news from smaller businesses located in less popular places.

Whilst this suggests that it will be harder for big, national brands to dominate local search results, it looks like Possum has also increased the competition levels amongst local neighbours and similar businesses which find themselves in close proximity in terms of physical locations.

What can I do next?

We’ve already seen those recent changes impact rankings and if you’re planning to keep ahead of the competition and take your online business to the next level, then you certainly need to take Penguin and Possum into account. If you’re a local business, now is definitely the time to get your website in tip-top shape and stand out against your local competitors, whilst the Penguin update means that all online businesses should re-evaluate their linking profile, ensure that they disavow all spammy links and strive to achieve only high quality ones.

Whilst it may seem that it’s even more difficult to improve organic rankings due to all those recent changes, there are other things you can do to help support your ranking potential. Besides investing in an updated SEO strategy and making sure that your website is an online destination filled with high quality content that makes it stand out from competitors and offers real value to users, you can also opt for Paid Search, and particularly AdWords, to make sure that you appear in the top positions of search results.

At Williams Commerce, our team of digital marketing specialists have years of experience, providing marketing strategies tailored to the specific needs of each business we work with. If you’re interested in growing your online business and keeping ahead of the competition, contact us today on 0116 326 1116 to learn how you can combine SEO and Paid Search into a successful digital marketing approach.