by Michael Rosa/SEO Strategist with contributions from Mick Wilson, Director, Client Services

A few weeks ago, the most recognizable voice of Google, web spam expert Matt Cutts announced a new Penguin update to be released over the summer. Matt teased us with vague descriptions of the areas targeted by the upcoming algorithm updates, tactics targeted to include advertorials that pass page rank,  better link scheme analysis and domain name clustering among others. SEO’s both enterprise level and local marketers everywhere started waiting for the impact to hit. On the afternoon of May 22, 2013 Cutts confirmed with a tweet that Penguin 4.0 was being pushed to Google’s data centers.

One area that we at Rio SEO noticed a clear update to the domain name clustering impact in particular in the local SERPS. For some time Google has shown multiple listings (4 to 5+ positions) on Page 1 of the SERPs,  allowing one brand the ability to dominate the SERPs when combining local and organic results. Those days seem to be over. Rio SEO research shows, across many different verticals, an overall decrease in the ability for one domain from possessing 4 or more rankings per page to no more than 3 organic listings for a website Domain.

There is some variation noted based on the competition levels, for instance more competitive local search terms were true to the two organic listings and one local listing, but in less competitive keyword searches some brands were still experiencing up to three or more local search rankings. Our research shows local search terms with indexes of 240,000 plus pages competing were pretty strictly limited to only 3 listings. Local searches with less than 150,000 competing pages still showed instances of 4 or more listings, but this seems to occur because there is just not enough good optimized copy for the search engines to rank well, and we expect this to be a temporary effect that will continue to dwindle over the upcoming weeks.

So for the local and big brand marketer out there, it is time to re-evaluate your overall strategy. Since simply dominating rankings seems to no longer be a possibility, it is time to make sure the two to three pages that do get ranked are fully optimized, not just for the SERPS, but for conversion. It is time once again to look into how your titles and descriptions are optimized for your users to drive click conversion from the SERPs, as there will be more of your competition competing for clicks on Page one of Google!