You must have heard about the Possum update of 2016? Of course, if you are in SEO, you must have heard about it. The most important factor which changed with this update is how Google started to make the geographical location of the searcher as the number 1 ranking factor for local searches. For example, if you are searching for “best SEO Company in India” from New Delhi, you will see the New Delhi based companies to rank higher and cover almost the whole page. In fact, you will see the paid ads from the Delhi based companies as well.
Thus, the trick of listing changed. First and foremost, you have to be from a certain geographical location to be eligible for the SERP listing. Then only the other ranking factors and formulas will be applied on your website to decide the ranking. But, as with everything Google does, this rule has some exceptions, which, however, prove the law, actually.
How does this change anything? This is a major update because now, you can expect more local searchers to reach your website but as the same time, there will be less traffic from searchers outside the circle. Using the same example, you will see less crowd from other Indian cities like Mumbai or Bangalore. So, if you need those traffic what would you do? You would be tempted to go beyond the approved limits. However, there comes the big warning from Google.
Frankly, there are companies, mostly from India, who would ask you to trust them and tempt you for better traffic and listing. However, should you trust those companies or stay with someone like Design and Rank who will never do that? Before you decide, look at the aftermath.
Firstly, Google WILL REMOVE you from the SERP, including your local listing and your organic listing. This penalty is very heavy to remove and you might need to undergo the long and expensive process of Google Penalty Removal. Ignoring that for a moment, lets check how prone are you to receiving the penalty.
- 74% of all the listings which got suspended or removed from Google SERP were from India and USA.
- 40% of all the suspended listings were from the service industries like plumbers, electricians, locksmiths and more.
- 54% of all the suspended services from USA are from ix states: California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois and New Jersey.
The first point should make you very careful about the SEO company you are about to trust in India. We maintain a very clean record only fearing this, a trick gone wrong can not only ruin a client but also can tarnish our reputation for a lifetime. This is why we keep on preaching ethical SEO. This is why we don’t use shortcut to success. The USA companies, individuals and reseller agencies who trusted these dubious companies (you can spot these companies easily if you check the existing client list and try to verify a few of those) went down along with these SEO Companies in India because, in all probability, these agencies utilised the same techniques for themselves as well as their clients. Some of these losses are irreversible really.
Google is being rather harsh on these listing on local searches because they are taking this as the most important factor for ranking. Google, in fact, is boasting that “Our study shows that fewer than 0.5% of local searches lead to fake listings”. With Google placing that much importance on proper listing, we would urge you not to take the shortcuts (yes we know those tricks as well but no, we don’t employ those ever) because the repercussions would be fatal for your business.
Rumour is, Google is developing an algorithm to catch these listings so less manual interference is needed to catch the culprits. If that happens, or maybe it is happening because Google doesn’t always inform us of everything, then the fakers are in real big trouble.
Stay safe, stay with Design and Rank!