This Week In SEO 67
Possum, Penguin & More


Possum = “Near Me” Update?

While Penguin is still rolling out, just starting to un-kill sites that got slapped by version 3, the beginning-of-September local update (that lots of people are calling Possum) had some very real, very big consequences (both good and bad) for many local sites.

LocalSEOGuide looks at the impact of this update on “near me” queries (such as “Apple store near me,” “pizza near me,” etc.).

The findings?

Sites targeting “near me” searches saw a big boost, and the update seemed to be targeting sites that were using some SPAMMY techniques (which is a relative definition, I know) to rank locally.

While we didn’t see this in every case, strong local search domains that have been using this brand near me strategy appeared to start to be more relevant to Google for these queries. While the site in question is a nationally-known brand, we even saw this kind of activity on some of the smaller, far less well-known local search clients we work with.



Some Guidelines on How to Rank for Near Me Queries



Now that we know Google is interested in “near me” queries, Yoast has our backs with a post on how to optimize for that valuable (and variable) keyword.

  • Add NAP details to your site
  • Add those exact NAP details to your Google My Business page
  • Use markup on your site
  • Get positive reviews

Kind of some “no duh” stuff there, but it’s (no longer) surprising to see all the sites that neglect these details and try to rank for local keywords.

Basically, Google is trying to offer more relevant results to someone searching for “service/product near me,” so really nailing down your location and making your NAP (name, address, phone number) really visible on your site is important to take advantage of the opportunities here. URL Shortener Blocking all Feedburner Links

Google’s seemingly general disregard for its users continues.

All those Google products/services you love? With the same inescapable fate as the inevitable heat death of the Universe, Google will kill that product/service, eventually.


The blog Techdirt had a pretty (justifiably) salty post about Google’s URL shortener,, blocking all Feedburner links as breaking the shortener’s terms of service.

Of course the comedy here is having one Google product in conflict with another.

Over time, FeedBurner got purchased by Google and subsumed into the Google machine. At some point, a few years ago, anyone still using FeedBurner had all links in those RSS feeds automatically switched to using Google’s URL shortener.

[…]yesterday morning when we all got back to work from the long weekend (I was completely disconnected, off camping in the mountains) we had a ton of emails, messages and tweets from Techdirt readers and supporters about how all our links were broken — with every one of them pointing to a page on Google’s site saying that we had violated Google’s terms of service.


Google has since fixed this issue, but a ton of media sites had traffic issues and a ton of broken links to contend with until they complained loudly enough to get Google’s attention, and a fix.

Though this story is a little older than I usually post, please consider this a PSA to not rely on Google products/services/properties to build your online presence. It is not a solid foundation at all (and that goes for other big online companies *cough*Facebook*cough* as well.


An Important Note About Penguin and Disavowing Links


Here’s the deal: Google’s Penguin update/on-going filter will take care of spammy backlinks by simple devaluing them (vs. demoting (‘adjusting the rank of’) a site.

So you don’t HAVE to disavow links, but Google wants you to Help A Brother out and snitch on those bad links anyway.

Here’s a summary including a Gary “Super Ill” Illyes quote:

So in short, it seems Google Penguin no longer penalizes the site or specific pages but rather ignores/devalues the spammy links and thus the rankings are adjusted. Gary said this should make webmasters “happier,” adding “and that makes me happy.”


Get Yourself a Featured Snippet


One thing I probably won’t shut up about any time soon is featured snippets, and how to get that #1 spot.

Glenn Gabe sums it up neatly:

  • Cover a topic as thoroughly and clearly as you can.
  • Answer the question concisely and provide both the question and answer on the page.
  • Provide a concise section that answers the core query.
  • Use bullets or numbered lists for processes.
  • Provide a strong image near the answer for possible inclusion in the Featured Snippet.
  • Use HTML tables where appropriate.

Easier said than done, yes, but you should absolutely try and get that featured placement.

Because the only thing better than ranking #1 is being featured…


Rapid-Fire SEO Insights

TWS68: Penguin Recoveries, Local Pack Tests, and More!
TWS66: Penguin Arrives, Apple Maps, AMP, & More

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Sean Markey

Sean Markey

Obsessive consumer of SEO news and strategies, writes the This Week in SEO column. Loves playing drums and writing fiction. Bets you he can throw a football over them mountains.
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