A few reports are floating around these upside down Australian shores that a recent Google update may have rolled out a double whammy impact, targeting both the devaluation of spammy links as well as a direct impact upon location rankings within a particular area.
This second area is of particular interest for me, as it is so different to the European markets. Take the UK for example, although there are definitely changes in search results based on the actual location the search is undertaken from, it is also difficult to pinpoint geographical changes exactly due to the high number of cities within a relatively small geographical area. Here in Australia, this is very different. With only 6 states, and 4 or 5 key cities within the business sector – it should be quite easy for Google to provide the most relevant listing as per geographical location.
According to a post over on Power Retail, a number of big brands have dropped in the rankings due to having no physical location near where the search is being performed, while other clients are seeing significant increases due to having that presence.
On a business level, I have to admit we haven’t seen any major fluctuations in our local rankings, or any filters/penalties that we can see applied in the last few days. We’ll continue to monitor but I remain particularly interested in that location based searching. On a personal level, I was coincidentally searching today for a local business on the term [anti-gravity yoga]. There’s a place called House of Yoga just down the road from where I live that I couldn’t remember the name of. It offers this class and I was looking for the exact time it was on today. (If you’ve never tried anti-gravity yoga, and have ever wondered what it’s like to hang around upside down, I highly recommend it!). Anyway, back to that search! Here’s my results (incognito):
Yes that’s right, the top ranked page is a US based company. I believe that do have one Australian outlet listed, however it is only on the ‘locations’ page and is also based in Brisbane! Second ranked is NSW based to be fair, but is significantly further away right up in the North end of Sydney (while I live Inner West). A quick look at the sites suggests that yes the US based site has a much stronger backlink profile (and title tag) but is this enough to completely dupe the Google algorithm away from their supposed holy destination: RELEVANCE?
It’s also worth noting that although my local, House of Yoga, does also have a Google Plus/Places page – it is only listed in 3rd place within the local results. With the map showing the North Sydney page in prime position, with marker. This is despite House of Yoga having a full profile, including 3 positive reviews (which is 3 more than any competitor).
Other notable points: my ISP is based in central Sydney and when signed in, I still receive these same results (although Google probably knows the name of my first born before I do based on the amount of data it will capture through that sign-in).
So are those local results improving? I regularly see UK and US results posted above local Australian results when searching on local services or shops. I do believe brands can improve their chances by ensuring they have a local address available, and a Google Plus/Places account optimised, however I’m not sure of the actual impact of this ‘latest Google update’.
Have you noticed anything interesting happening in the Australian SERPS of late? I’d love to hear from you – there’s just not enough coverage of the Australian algorithm as compared to UK/US. I’ll continue to monitor from an agency and brand perspective, alongside my actual bona fide searcher persona – check back from more updates.
(And thanks to House of Yoga for the image)