Google’s Possum Update is a local update and the latest addition to its menagerie of algorithms (penguin, panda, hummingbird…) which effect SEO. The update started rolling out in the first week of September and is still in the process of altering the SERPs (search engine results page). These are still fluctuating, including the 3-Local Pack results.
In the search community, it’s widely believed that this update is to diversify local search results and also prevent spam from ranking highly on the SERPs. The last big update to local search was ‘Pigeon’ back in 2014.
Opportunities with Google Possum Update
- You could rank in neighbouring areas
- The update seems to realise that there’s more to search results than just location. Businesses that fall just outside of a city’s limits are seeing a spike in traffic now.
- Affiliation/address filter
- For example, shared offices or healthcare or law practices with multiple people working separately. Traditionally because they shared a domain or telephone number, only one/two people from that practice would show in the Local Pack. Now one will show. And it’s even been speculated that Google are finding affiliation by owner. However, it is worth noting that these listings have not disappeared – they will still be showing if you zoom in on the local finder.
- Appear twice
- You could appear twice in the local pack listings and traditional organic results.
So far, the update has positively affected businesses that lie outside the metro-cities boundaries but would like to target the audiences in the metro cities. The SERPs results will be altered as per user-location specific queries like ‘restaurants near me’. The SERPs results will be filtered tightly according to physical addresses.
Other Notable Changes
It’s not you, it’s them – It appears that the location of the searcher is more important now. It is using IP address locations to serve better results to users. If the user is located outside a city they will be shown a larger, zoomed out map from their location.
Similar Keyword Fluctuation – The order of keywords is now impacting on the results. It used to be that “Digital Marketing Leatherhead”, “Leatherhead Digital Marketing” or “Digital Marketing Surrey” would deliver similar results. Now a small change in order can shift how results appear. Possibly with more weighting depending on the word order? SEO keywords on pages need to reflect this change.
Your SEO Plan of Action
Firstly, optimise the site for queries like ‘XYZ Service near me’ and optimise the content of the site for all the nearby locations that your businesses serves.
For example if your business offers video production services in London and within 10 miles or 16 kms of this city, you should mention this in my content as well.
Update your Google My Business and your local business Listings on other external local sources with detailed location-specific information as well. It’s also a good idea to have a Google Map incorporated on your contact us page marked with the detailed radii information.
Keep a close eye on your rankings for location-based queries.
@danny_taywitter we always tinker, so yes, in a way or other, you can expect more changes
— Gary Illyes (@methode) September 27, 2016
The Google Possum update is still in progress, so we expect clients to see some more fluctuations and shifts, but rest assured we are on the case and have processes in place to optimise your listings.