Business owners have seen their Google My Business listings behave strangely over the past few weeks. This new development is credited to Google’s biggest local algorithm update since 2016’s Possum, which affected 64% of the local search results.
Dubbed ‘Possum 2.0’, this latest update seems to have had a significant impact on the way ‘Google My Business’ (GMB) listings perform in the search result pages.
Most importantly, these listings are extremely beneficial for self-storage facilities that want to attract leads online – in short, they are indispensable for search engine optimization efforts for local businesses. But the latest Google algorithm update requires a lot more due diligence in how you create and maintain a listing for your business.
Why Google Made This Change
When the first-ever Possum update was released in 2016, Google decided that the most important signal for local search results was the user’s location, i.e. their proximity to the businesses displayed.
As such, the algorithm ensured that a business would show up in results if it was close to the searcher’s location – and this latest iteration is a continuation of the same efforts.
The update decides when and how businesses are displayed in local results and filters out similar listings by industry and location. So if your company has more than one Google page or a duplicate listing because you changed the address and phone number recently, the search engine giant might not display your business altogether.
Similarly, if there are several dentists in a building, Google will show only one or two of them in the results.
How this Might Impact You
As mentioned earlier, Google Possum 2.0 gives importance to the physical location of the searcher while filtering out local businesses that have the same address. It aims to accurately differentiate between keywords to display powerfully relevant results.
So if you are trying to rank at #1 for a keyword but not bothered about dominating local search, this algorithm update shouldn’t affect you in any way.
But if you want to get to the top of local SEO, it’s time to insulate your business against the latest update and its harsh filters against irrelevant and duplicate listings.
Interestingly enough, businesses that are outside of city limits are ranking higher than ever in search results. This is excellent news for self-storage businesses which are usually located on the outskirts of a city by default – effectively, Possum 2.0 has given these businesses a chance to appear in the top ten search results.
So far, research shows that businesses that took a dip in the SERPs had listed zip codes they aren’t actually in. So, for example, a gourmet burger store that listed a nearby zip code – simply because they deliver there despite the fact that their actual shop is in a different zip code – saw their business fall off the map listings for that area.
If your self-storage business hasn’t been annihilated in the search results, it may have dropped a few spots. But if you haven’t noticed any changes to the way your GMB page is performing, then you might be in the clear.
After Possum 2.0, you may also notice some spam listings in the maps search results. Don’t worry because Google is taking its time to sift through and remove any businesses that are trying to game the system for local search domination – you can also play your part by reporting any suspicious results.
Also, the update makes it easier for smaller businesses to fight Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in local search results. Previously, big brands with multiple locations and listings could easily dominate the SERPs as they certainly have the numbers and the domain authority for it – but now, Google is downplaying these assets for local searches.
How To You Respond If You Were Affected
While making rash decisions in the wake of an algorithm update is never a good idea, with Possum, you can rest assured that the changes will stay and ignoring them will hurt your GMB position.
In an attempt to provide the most relevant results to searchers, Google has ensured that businesses ‘treasure’ the potential customers that are situated closest to them.
So, adapt your on-going SEO strategies to the demands of the update; this means keeping the location, zip code and contact information up-to-date while also valuing reviews and getting as many of them as possible.
How to Safeguard Against Future Local Search Updates
The GMB listing for your self-storage company should be built according to the recommended best practices because it seems that Google is still testing and fine-tuning the algorithm – we may very well be subjected to another update soon.
Follow Google’s Guidelines
Pay special attention to Google’s directions about the business address on your GMB profile – make sure that the mailbox information in the Address 2 field is entered according to the guidelines. There are also rules for listing virtual office addresses – follow these precisely to ensure that you comply with all the standards.
Clean up Citations
Ensure that your business doesn’t have duplicate listings or any incorrect information anywhere online. This will only call into question the authenticity of the information you have provided, which in turn could adversely affect your GMB listing.
On the other hand, if your information is accurate but your competition hasn’t woken up to the fact that they need to put their GMB listing in order, you might have an edge in the search results.
After Possum 2.0, businesses that show up are the ones with more relevance to the search query. You can prove ‘relevance’ by making sure that all the citation and category information on all listing pages is correct – and most importantly, matched. This means that Google My Business, Yelp, Yahoo! Local and Bing Local listings for your self-storage business should be identical.
Ask For Reviews
Positive customer reviews are good for business; it’s as simple as that.
Encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews that are packed with business-related keywords, such as ‘Best self-storage facilities in city!’, or ‘Secure and affordable self-storage.’ These can help you show up for relevant searches.
Implement A Local Search Marketing Strategy
As a local business in a competitive industry, your self-storage business requires a well-rounded local search marketing strategy that includes social media and content, as well. It is also essential to reply to user’s reviews, not just for SEO but also for engaging your customers – both satisfied and the not-so-satisfied.
The Last Word
Like pretty much all other Google search algorithm updates, Possum 2.0 has caused much chaos for local SEO. But the fact is that it is promising for self-storage companies that have a hard time ranking in the SERPs simply because they are located on the outskirts of a city.
Revise your local data and content, stay relevant and engage with your clients to increase your online visibility – that’s all Possum wants.