Google Possum Update Shakes Things Up For Small Business Local Search Engine Rankings

Local small business listings began disappearing and then reappearing out of place after an important algorithm update in September 2016. Because the listings were considered dead but not officially missing, the update was dubbed “Possum.” Local businesses do not appreciate the shakeup produced by the search results playing possum.

According to affiliates of Search Engine Land, the algorithm update was designed to help prevent spam from making its way into local search engine results. Improving the overall user experience is key to algorithm updates that are aimed at diversifying results. The execution of this update, however, was lacking.

Local businesses whose listings and rankings are playing possum need to take action. At Scott Keever SEO, we specialize in helping local businesses find their footing with search engines. We can help you better understand Possum and how it relates to your business. Then we formulate a plan to help your company index properly with the search engines once again.

One ramification of the Possum update is that many businesses previously labeled outside a city’s limits are now being included in local search engine results. If you are the owner of a business outside the city limits, then chances are the Possum update is benefiting you already. Previously, outlying companies were left out of results derived from city-specific keyword phrases.

Not only are companies filtered by address post update, but Possum also filters them by category. Google has been putting this type of filtering into practice for quite some time. Possum, however, is limiting the number of results people are able to see, despite companies falling into the same categories and sharing the same zip codes.

Businesses often have multiple websites, and search engines would filter out redundant listings prior to Possum. For example, let’s say a personal injury lawyer has different websites for each office location. The law firm features a central website, but Possum is geared to start filtering sites according to additional criteria, including phone numbers and differences in address.

Search engines are now placing a higher priority on a user’s physical location.

Results tailored to a person’s location is Google’s goal with the Possum algorithm update. Even when a user is not searching information based on location, the results are going to be more location-specific. This type of update potentially connects local businesses with consumers much easier. The update also has a substantial impact on companies that might be headquartered outside of cities where many of their storefronts are located.

Execs at Google are always referring to micro-moments. Micro-moments are those times when people think instantly to lookup keyword phrases to locate the nearest sources for those keyword phrases. Search engines want to deliver that fast food to consumers.

Results certainly vary based on variations in keyword phrases, but the Possum update has facilitated major changes.

Some keyword variations may appear pointless and not yield many changes in a company’s search engine results. The local 3-pack, however, is showing some notable fluctuation when keyword phrases are altered. For example, desired changes are taking place on occasion when state abbreviations are added. Prior to Possum, those types of keyword variations would mostly produce similar results.

Additionally, with the Possum update in place, the organic filter and local filter are not so much in tandem. The local filter is now more independent.

Organic filtering was not always a priority or even a good thing. Possum has helped usher in a new way of looking at organic search results for local businesses. This is especially true when it comes to those competitive keyword phrases.

Google’s Possum update has certainly shaken things up a bit, and tests are still being run. The company wants to ensure that the algorithm update produces the intended results over time. The tests have produced some rather surprising results that are anything but uniform.

Small businesses need to understand this critical update and how it pertains to their search engine rankings and their operations in general. We can help by performing an audit of your site and what changes have been made to your local search engine rankings. Give us a call today!

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