The Impact of Google’s ‘Possum’ Update on Your Business 

     Google’s most recent local algorithm change has rolled out and is already impacting businesses who rely on local listings to generate quality traffic.  Late in 2015, Google switched their method of serving local and map results to a 3 pack on SERPs. This meant less space and more competition for businesses within these local results. Companies with lots of quality reviews and traffic were likely to dominate these 3 positions based on area specific keywords. According to Search Engine Land, it is suspected that the ‘Possum’ algorithm update is designed to diversify these 3 pack results, and provide new exposure for businesses based on the intent and searching habits of a potential customer.  

Spam Filtering 

     One of the main aspects of the Possum update was the rollout of a new filter that primarily exists to limit spam results. The filter appears to be impacted by the age of a local listing, the number of reviews it has, its relative organic ranking, and the number of duplicate listings it has. If your business has followed Google’s best practices, and you have a comprehensive SEO strategy and local marketing plan in place, you shouldn’t be negatively impacted, or pushed out of local results. 

Geographic Location 

     The Possum update also has provided boosts to businesses who were negatively impacted by their geographic location, and the use of keywords applied to that specific location. If your business’ location fell outside of city limits of a major metropolitan area, but you still targeted keywords for that city, you traditionally wouldn’t have an easy time ranking in the local pack. However, the new update appears to give a large boost to businesses that are outside of city limits, but are still close enough to be practical for a customer. Also, keyword variations that add abbreviations of cities or states appear to have a greater impact on changing which businesses are shown in the local result. 

For example, we have noticed that searches for 'myrtle beach vacation rentals' have increased instances of rental companies not in Myrtle Beach, SC, but in nearby Garden City Beach, SC or Murrells Inlet, SC.

     Additionally, the update appears to filter out businesses that share a building or physical address while being in the same industry. For example, if you have a vacation rentals and real estate division that operate in the same building but different offices, and someone searches a branded term, one result may be filtered based on what Google deems the most relevant. It is important to keep in mind that filtering is very different from being removed from search results. Google’s algorithms are very dynamic and reactive to user behavior, and results will change quite often based on what businesses are being filtered. 

     A final aspect of geographic location that applies to the update is the physical location of a searcher. More than ever, this update diversifies local pack listings based on where a searcher is located. If you are tracking local rankings, there are tools that you can use to search from a location in order to get a better idea of ranking based on location.  

So What Does This Mean for my Business? 

     This algorithm update is just another reminder that local marketing requires lots of management. From creating and claiming listings, to optimizing your local business profile and on-site content and monitoring results later on, there’s a lot involved with maintaining a strong local marketing presence.  

     Visual Data Systems offers local marketing management services to help take the burden off of businesses who need to maintain a presence on local marketing. If you are looking to enhance your local marketing performance, contact us today and learn what Visual Data Systems can do for you and your business!