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One of the reasons that search engine optimization and especially local SEO can be so challenging for business owners is Google’s always making changes to how they rank websites. On top of changes to their ranking algorithm, Google regularly experiments with different design elements that affect the visibility of how many unpaid listings actually show up on results pages.
Google’s latest update that will directly affect the local SEO strategy of many businesses has been nicknamed Possum. Before we dive into the details of this update, if you’re wondering where its nickname came from, it’s the result of “many business owners thinking their Google My Business listings are gone, when in fact they are not. They have just been filtered – they’re playing possum.”
The Basics of the Possum Update
Based on our analysis and that of the SEO community as a whole, the Possum update took place on September 1st. The focus of this update was the 3-pack and Local Finder results. You may be familiar with Local Finder as Google Maps results. While organic results for local businesses also saw some shakeups, it appears those were the result of a separate update that occurred shortly after Possum. While Google generally doesn’t provide official in-depth commentary on these types of changes, it seems like their goal with Possum was to diversify local results, as well as ensure fake spam listings are unable to rank. It’s also worth mentioning that based on all of the data surrounding this update; it’s likely the biggest local update Google has made since they rolled out Pigeon back in 2014.
5 Things You Need to Know About This Google Update
Now that we’ve covered the basic details of this update, we want to get into a few specifics. The first is that businesses which fall outside physical city limits have seen a significant uptick in their rankings.
Second, one of the implications of Possum is Google is now filtering based on address and affiliation.
Third, Google is putting a lot of emphasis on the physical location of people searching.
The fourth change is search results vary more based on slight variations of the keyword searched. This makes sense given the ever increasing amount of data and computing power that Google has at its disposal.
Finally, the local filter refined by Possum seems to be running more independently from the organic filter. That means it’s more important than ever for small to medium businesses with a local presence to have well-defined strategies for both general and local SEO.
If you want to work with an expert partner that can help guide your business through Google’s Possum update and any other updates that come along in the future, learn more about the local SEO services offered by Web Strategy Plus.