Google Possum – what’s it all about


google-possumIt has been several months that we have been long waiting for the next Google algorithm update and finally we have a name to it. Called the “Possum”, the update was supposedly launched on the 1st of September and brings changes to the local SEO algorithms. The update was recognized when several online business owners noticed that the “Google My Business” listing was gone, when in fact, they had been filtered.

What’s Possum about?

The current evidences are suggestive of an impact upon 3-pack and the Local Finder (local business search results in Google Maps). Another update to the initial Possum algorithm brought about little changes in organic search results. Consequently, we believe that the aim of the Possum was diversifying local results and minimize on spam. Possum looks like the biggest update from Google since the Pigeon was launched in 2014.

What would be the implications of the Possum?

There would be several big changes that Possum will bring to local business search.

1. Higher ranking for businesses outside city limits

Firstly, Possum come as a savior for businesses that were located outside city limits and therefore failed to stand in competition to the ones inside the city. Google even ensued that these businesses “didn’t technically fall” in the boundaries of local suggestions. However, since the 1st of April, these businesses saw a spike in the rankings.

2. Filters based on affiliations and addresses

Before Possum, Google search algorithms filtered out businesses that shared phone numbers and domains. To give an example, a beauty salon would have separate listings for hair cut, spa services and cosmetic treatments. Since, all the separate profiles would link back to the same phone numbers and website, only one of those would show up in the local search lists. This makes a lot of sense as it extends the listing to several different providers instead of a single one listed several times.

This would however be an inconvenience for businesses with two shops in different addresses but marketed in the same website. Well, this update doesn’t necessarily mean a penalty but an aim towards making the local search more organic. What business owners need to do is put is more relevant key wording to showcase both in local searches.

3. More impetus on physical location

Right after Possum started putting its marks into the search suggestions, several businesses noticed that their rankings dropped and even became non-existent in 3-pack. Since Google will now also showcase businesses in the city periphery, the map would be more zoomed out and several listings will drop as a result. Also, if you are searching for a business in a different location, the results would be different that if you had been searching for your local businesses. The best way out of this mess if to ensure that your search location is properly set to the city you want to be ranked for.

4. Small keyword variations for completely different set of results

Even small variation in the type of keywords can showcase completely different results, even with the 3 pack from now on. The listing is different now for similar key words/phrases like “Brisbane Beauty Salon”, “Beauty Salon Brisbane” and “Beauty Salon Brisbane, Queensland”. Even abbreviations matter now!

5. Local filter becomes independent of organic filter

Organic filtration of your website always had negative impact on any local business website. However, after Possum, businesses that have been filtered organically can still rank very high in local listings. In cases, where a business is using an URL for a page that used to rank very high historically, there is a massive spike in the ranks. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one can fool Google’s algorithms, but only that organic ranking and local ranking are now different.

As of now, it’s enough to understand that there will be a lot of fluctuations in the coming months as Google will be testing various ranking signals. Tracking bots like Algoroo are good evidence of the same. It can also be a possibility that some of the changes will be reverted back. While the Possum filter seems to be steady, its also too early to conclude the types of changes it will bring along.07798511707



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