Google Possum Local Search Update

The New Google Possum Algorithm May Cause Listings to ‘Play Dead’

During September 2016, there was a significant update made to the local algorithm which caused many business owners and webmasters to think their local listing had disappeared from Google’s local pack results. However, a more refined inquest has found that Google has implemented a filtering method within search engine results – hence the discovery of the Possum algorithm.

This algorithm update affects local search results, putting a higher emphasis on location, and separating local search and organic search so that they work independently from each other. Here are three factors to consider in light of this new update.

1) Boost for Businesses on the Outer Skirts of the Suburb

Before the Possum update, if the physical address of a local business was outside city limits, this put their ranking for search results at a disadvantage on Google maps due to the obvious distance between the address and the suburb. The update puts a less emphasis on the actual city limits, meaning that businesses’ physical address no longer play a huge part in influencing rankings.

2) Google Wants to Get Rid of Duplicate Listings (No Sharing of Addresses!)

Even before the Possum update, listings that shared a phone number or the same domain were already filtered from search results in order to avoid duplicate listings in the Local Pack. With Possum’s inception, listings that share the same address will now also be included in the filtering process.

For example, industries such as health care or law often has separate listings for the practice itself, as well as individual practitioners. Google Possum now picks the most relevant listing and filters out others that are too similar. These other listings haven’t disappeared – they can be viewed if you zoom in further on Google Maps.

3) Google is Focusing More on the Search User

Searches made on different physical locations provide different search results. The further away you are when searching, the more ‘zoomed out’ the maps got (this results in a higher chance of dropping in rankings due to the higher quantity of listings). The location of the searcher plays an important role search results in the local pack.

Have You Been Affected By This Update?

It’s still early days, and webmasters are noting constant fluctuations due to the Possum algorithm. There are ways you could be on the front foot, by regularly updating and optimising your listing. Quantum offers Google My Business management for businesses wanting to focus on their local target market. Speak to us to find out more!