Google’s “Possum” Algorithm Update and Its Effects on Local Listings

Possum” is the name suggested by Phil Rozek to the latest Google’s Algorithm Update, i.e. Google Local listings update, where local listings of several businesses are getting filtered. It is believed that these listings are not gone; they have just been filtered – they are playing possum.

What Was Possum Update?

Although Google has not officially announced anything regarding this update, but there are many pieces of evidence that indicate the impact on the local results or Google Maps results. It is expected that update happene d on September 1, 2016. This particular update impacted ranking in the 3-pack and Local Finder. The idea behind this update was to expand the local results and prevent spam results to rank on Google result pages.

If you remember, the biggest update in local was last seen in 2014 and it was named as “Pigeon”. The update was made to Google filter that applies to the local results.

Details of the Algorithm Update

1. Businesses falling outside the physical city limits will no more face any ranking boost. It’s hard time for such business and the keywords they use with the city name. For example, if you are offering SEO services in Chandiagrh, India with the address to the same city, but you have created a listing of the same business for San Jose, then it will no more rank inside the physical city limit as they will fell outside the physical borders of San Jose. This has improved the ranking of several local businesses that are offering SEO services in San Jose that were doing lots of right things from past so many years, but their local rankings never budged for this keyword. After the update, significant jump and improvement in rankings have been observed for those businesses that actually belong to the city.

2. With the update, it has been found that lots of businesses have been filtered out due to the same address on all the listings in the same category or same type of business. For example you have a dental clinic that has three separate listings for the individual dentists practicing in your clinic. These separate local listing profiles will all link to the same website with same phone number and address. Google will filter identical listings with duplicate content and show only single listing for the same clinic. This makes sense as there is no point in showing the results of the same company as no user will really like to see the same office listed multiple times. What these dental clinics can do is either promote their practice on social media, which is a simple and cost-effective way to attract new patients, or contact a company like Health Practice Digital. These companies could assist established dental practices with high-value patient appointment requests of the ones who are looking for treatment every month.

3. The location from where you search for any business has become an important point of consideration than it was before. For example, a company with different locations was not ranking in the 3-pack. The results they were getting from their location was completely different as compared to the one user was getting from its location. You may see listings in the lower ranks for Frisco that is far from the location you are trying to see the results say Florida, but the user from Frisco may see your business ranking in the top position.

4. The results obtained for SEO San Jose and San Jose SEO will vary slightly with the new update. There is a lot of fluctuation noticed between similar keywords.

5. Both the local and organic filters are running independently. Earlier, if your website was filtered organically, then it was not visible in local search results as well. Since the new update, the companies that were filtered organically are ranking very high in local results.

There are lots of fluctuations that can be noticed in rankings. It is believed that Google is still performing A/B testing on the ranking algorithm. It is expected that some of the changes made in the new update could recuperate some changes.

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