Wondering what’s going on with your local search rankings? Google has recently released the Possum update and many of you may be confused as to what it is and how it has changed SEO. Keep reading to find out more.
Looking for ways to boost your local rankings? Find out how from marketing specialists in Markham! Call 360 Business Local at (416) 619-7935 to discuss your options today.
What is Possum
Possum is the name of the large local algorithm update that occurred on September 1, 2016. This update has only impacted rankings in the Local Finder, where you find Google Map results and local results, and the 3-pack. The main purpose was to diversify local results, and to stop spam from ranking. The filter that applies to local results was one of the main things that was updated.
One of the biggest problems local SEO faced was if a business or service fell a little outside of a city’s limits, then they would have a difficult time ranking for keywords related to that city name. In some cases those companies would not even fall under any particular city according to Google Maps results. After the Possum update, many businesses likely saw a large increase in local rankings.
Filtering Based on Address & Affiliation
Before Possum, the local filter is that it would filter out any profiles that shared similar domain names or phone numbers. For instance, if you have a dental office that has separate listings for individual practitioners, as well as one for the office, the Google local filter would only show one or two of the listings. Any others would be filtered out.
While this makes sense as Google will regularly filter out any duplicate content, and many users do not want to see the same business listed several times, this is not beneficial for businesses. Since the update, a lot more businesses are filtered out due to the address of the business being the same as other listings within the same category or type of business. If you have multiple listings available, instead they of showing up in Google search together, it is likely that one will show one day, and the next a different listing will show.
Physical Location of the Searcher
After the Possum update, the physical location of the searcher has become more important. If a business has a head office in one area, and the smaller offices in other areas, they may notice that their listings may drop in rankings as a result. In the future is will be essential to make sure that the searcher location is set up to the correct city when tracking rankings.
Results Vary Based on Variations
Another thing that came with the update is that search results seem to vary more based on even the slightest variation of the searched keyword based on the 3-pack. There is overall a lot more fluctuation between keywords that are similar. In some instances, a listing that has been filtered due to one query, but then will appear again if an abbreviation to the keyword is added.
Local Filter running Independently from Organic Filter
Before, if Google would organically filter out a website or a page it would have a negative effect on the rankings. Now since the Possum update, it seems that businesses that rank high for more competitive terms and keywords are linking to pages that have been organically filtered.
There is still a lot of fluctuation in terms of the local filter, which leads some to believe that Google is still testing different ranking signals.