Google Possum is the latest algorithm update that is currently impacting local SERP results. While regular search engine algorithm updates are expected from Google, this particular update was designed to target local search results. Here is what you need to know about this latest local ranking shake up.
When Did the Google Possum Update Occur?
Although Google has not officially confirmed it, most SEO news outlets are reporting that the update occurred on September 1, 2016. Additionally, there was previously an annotation in some Google Search Console accounts that indicated that an Update had occurred, according to a UK SEO agency,. However, the annotation has since been removed.
Since the roll out of this update, some users have reported seeing fluctuation their rankings. While certain businesses were impacted negatively, others reported better search engine rankings as a result of the update.
What Did Google Possum Do To Search Local Results?
Apparently, Possum has had several major impacts on local search results. However, it only seems to have affected the 3-pack and Local Finder, also known as the local results or Google Maps results.
Geographical Proximity Is Now Less Important for Ranking
The first impact of Possum that was discovered was the fact that it has made geographical proximity less of an issue for businesses that are physically based outside of a city center or outside of city limits.
Previously, these businesses were having difficulty ranking for location-specific search queries. With the Possum update, it appears as though these location requirements have been relaxed and these businesses can now rank for keywords that include location modifiers with the nearby city name.
Searcher Location Has Become More Important Than the Business’s Location
However, what has become more important is the location of the searcher rather than the location of the business. With the Possum update, the searcher’s location setting will have a greater impact on the results that appear in the SERPs.
Google Possum Makes It Harder to Rank Virtual Offices
After Possum, Google now filters search results based on address and affiliation in order to filter out similar businesses and allow users to see more diverse options when performing a search query.
For example, previously Google might have shown all of the departments of a company that was located at a single address if you search for the business name of a company. Now, many of these results will be filtered in favor of showing results that gives users more choices. The other goal of diversifying these local results was also to prevent spam from ranking in the SERPs.
This is bad news for companies that use virtual offices in order to attempt to rank for specific locations because Google is now likely to filter out these results.
Searches Have Become More Sensitive to Keyword Variations
After Google Possum, some users have also reported seeing more ranking fluctuation between similar keywords (i.e. free seo tools vs seo tools free). In some cases, major differences have been reported in the SERPs for such keyword variations although it seems like the results rankings should be similar.
The Local Filter Is More Independent From the Organic Filter
Since the Possum update, more pages are able to rank for competitive terms such as email address scraper that are actually filtered in the organic search results for those queries. As a result, it appears that the update has made the local filter more independent from the organic filter for the SERPs.
Google Possum Update Summary
In short, we are still currently seeing a lot of fluctuations after this latest update. In fact, it is possible that some of the changes could revert back, as well. Only time will tell whether or not Possum will stick around and continue to impact the SERPs.
Related Google Possum Video