How the Google Bedlam Update Impacts Your SEO

What You Need to Know About Google’s Bedlam Update

After the Possum update in 2016, the month of November marked the biggest ranking shift in Local SEO. With the Possum update, the Local Search industry saw its first big Proximity update by Google. This shift enables SEO experts to develop tools and strategies considering ‘location’ as a pivotal aspect in ranking. The recent update (dubbed as Bedlam), too, indicates that Google will be focusing more on proximity.

Key Observations From The Bedlam Update

  • The results aren't industry specific. They have been and still are shifting across the board.
  • Huge Google Maps ranking changes were noticed on November 5th.
  • Organic Local Search results began changing as of November 7th,
  • Things began settling into the new normal from November 10th, when some of the changes were rolled back.
Local SERP ranking correction from November 10, 2019
  • Most changes brought by this update were mainly on the zip codes the business was NOT located in, with the proximity dial being turned up.
  • More changed were added by Google back into the Local Pack changing them back to 3-packs from the 1-packs we've been seeing.
  • This was not a spam update. However, it has uncovered a signifigant amount of spam listings, which is a part and parcel of big changes like this one.
  • Google My Business listings that are too close to another similar business or if they share the same name or phone number with another location are being filtered out.

Final Takeaway

  • When big changes like the Bedlam update take place, the best thing to do is to sit back and wait for things to settle down a bit, and not panic.
  • Check out your local rankings using our dashboard and get a hold of the changes that have taken place to see what impact they have had or will have on your business. There are several browser extensions that allow you to see what results look like to users from different locations.
  • When you see legitimate Google Maps spam listings competing with you, don't forget to report them to Google.
  • Since the Bedlam update, you will not be able to continue ranking in the areas that are further away. You will have to design your strategies accordingly to include other referrers for those areas that do not include Google. For instance, you could start a series of targeted Facebook ads for users who are in your competitors' locations by offering them a 'second option' or a 'free consultation.'

Wrapping Up

As always, we are here to help. If you are facing issues with your local campaign, give our local seo gurus a call.

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