What Happened After Google’s Possum Update:

A recent update in Google’s local algorithm, called Possum, might affect how your business listing appears in local searches. This update was released September, 1st 2016. This update is different from Google’s previous updates – Possum does not penalize businesses. Possum is like a filter that hides certain listings that aren’t considered relevant. This could be good or bad, depending on your business. Google updated its local algorithm (Possum) as a way to prevent spam business listings and diversify local search results.

While the strategies of achieving a successful SEO campaign haven’t changed, Possum has slightly altered how local search works. Some observations of Possum’s changes include:

  • Your physical business listing may or may not show up when searches include the city name closest to you.
    • May be a good thing for businesses located outside the physical city limits, as they may see increases in rankings.
  • Your physical business address now impacts your ranking
    • Businesses in similar industries that share the same building and the same building address might compete for a listing.
    • This may be alarming for professionals like doctors and lawyers, with similar practices run in the same building.
    • Google’s update might consider these similar businesses as “duplicate” listings, since the same service is being offered at the same address. Consequently, only one of these businesses at that address would appear, and the others would be filtered out from the search, but not deleted.
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  • Geographic location of the searcher is now more important than ever
    • In the past, search results were weighted more heavily towards the search terms. Now Google has placed a greater importance on a user’s physical location to provide more accurate results in the local 3-pack.
    • Because of this, it’s important that the searcher location is set to the town, city, and/or region that you want to target.
  • Search results vary more than before based on small variations
    • The Map Pack is now a lot more sensitive to small keyword variations.
    • We’re seeing a lot more ranking fluctuation between similar keywords
      • For example, there are big differences between the phrases “Salon Tampa FL,” “Tampa FL Salon,” and “Salon in Tampa FL.”

What You Can Do As a Business:

  • Update and optimize your Business Listing (especially the address)
    • Make sure your citations are updates and accurate across all platforms where your business might be listed (not just on Google, as all these listings impact your ranking).
  • Keep with to date with your keyword selections and website content.
    • Have several variations of keyword combinations in your link building and on your site

We thank you for checking out our Whiteboard Wednesday video, we hope you learned about Google’s recent Possum update. We hope to see you back for our next edition of Whiteboard Wednesday. For more information and to learn more about good SEO practice, call Gauge Digital Media at (410) 376-7709.

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