What You Need to Know About Google’s ‘Possum’ Algorithm Update

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Google's-Possum-Update-Tech-Critic-Arlington-Texas-Digital-Marketing-AgencyGoogle is at it again, but this time they are being a bit more coy with their algorithm update. If you have noticed something different about local search rankings lately, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It seems the only constant in today’s world – especially in regards to SEO and digital marketing – is change. So it should come as no surprise that Google’s search rankings have undergone another somewhat substantial update. While Google has yet to name the sneaky algorithm update that took place September 1, 2016, those in the local search community are calling it ‘Possum’. The news of another update may come as a surprise to some (especially given the fact that Penguin 4.0 was launched earlier this month), but to others, not so much. In fact, Google reportedly changes its search algorithm anywhere from 500 to 600 times per year. Sure, the majority of these updates are small and go unnoticed, but not all of them.

As mentioned, the Possum update appears to have taken place before Penguin was released, which is perhaps why it slipped by unnoticed at first. There are a few important changes that have taken place thanks to Possum, impacting local brick-and-mortar businesses in particular.

What’s Changed?

In the Possum update, proximity to the searcher’s location has become more important than ever before. This goes to show that Google has been focusing on merging local and organic ranking signals for some time now, which is good news for brick-and-mortar businesses. With the new update, there are new filters in place that reward businesses that are not only physically closest to searchers, but that are also optimizing their location data and content better than others. Here is a look at the some of the specifics of the Possum update:

  • Businesses outside of city limits experienced a spike in ranking. In the past, businesses that are outside of physical city limits have an extremely difficult time ranking for any keywords that include the name of the city. Thanks to the Possum update, this is no longer the case. Many businesses that are outside of city limits have noticed this change in ranking over the last month or so, and they have Possum to thank.
  • Google has added filters based on address and affiliation. This pertains to business owners with multiple practitioners or partners under one roof (so a chiropractor or doctor’s office, or law firm, for example). So, if one of your businesses or partners is the same as another listing in the same category, and it leads back to the same website, it will probably be filtered out. This should come as no surprise, as Google often filters duplicate content organically. This isn’t to penalize anyone, it is simply picking the “best” and most relevant listing and filters out any others that are too similar. This is something to keep an eye on, as we are unsure how exactly it will play out at this point.
  • There is more importance placed on the physical location of the searcher. With the new update, it is more important than ever that the searcher location is set to the right city when tracking ranking and SEO. There are various tools to help you do this (contact Tech-Critic for more information on this), but this has definitely been throwing people off.
  • Search results will vary based on any variations of the keyword in question. The way in which a particular keyword is searched causes changes in search results and ranking. For example, if you typed “Oklahoma Personal Injury Lawyer” or “Personal Injury Lawyer Oklahoma” or “Oklahoma Personal Injury Attorney”, you will likely get different results. Ever since Possum, we are seeing more fluctuation between very similar keywords and the order in which they are typed.

For more information on the Possum update and how your search rankings may be affected, please do not hesitate to contact Tech-Critic today.


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