The “Possum Update” and How It Affects Local Search Results

Seeing changes in your Google My Business search results? Here’s why…

In early September 2016, Google rolled-out an update to their core search algorithm that affects local search results and the page position of your Google My Business results on Maps and the “Local 3-Pack” on the first page of search results. While Google made no announcements related to this update, the SEO industry has nick-named this update “Possum“.

How does this impact my local business?

  1. Your business will start to appear in the 3-pack and higher on the Google Maps results when the searcher is physically closer to your business.
  2. Google appears to no longer restrict results based on the city name in your address. This means that if your business is located in the suburbs, but you serve clients in the city, your business now has a better chance to show. Conversely, if you’re located in the city, you may be moved down the list because your competitor in the suburbs may jump you in the results.
  3. Google appears to now only show one result per corporation and per address. If you had three different locations of the same franchise out position you in the past, Google will now tend to show only one of those locations. If you’re a franchise owner, you may see a substantial decrease in impressions for your Google My Business info for your location if there are multiple other franchises located near you. If there are 5 dentists in one building, Google will now only show one of those dentists.
  4. There is now more variance in the search results for different search queries. Prior to September, searches for similar terms would produce the same search results. The new variance will help some listings get more exposure, other listings will get less.
  5. For searches with “local intent”, Google now places less emphasis on global signals (ie. traditional Search Engine Optimization) and more emphasis on local signals. This will help level the playing field between the small business owner and the corporate giants that spend millions on SEO services.

The increase in “near me” searches.

There has been a drastic increase in “near me” searches. In other words, people used to Google phrases like “pizza restaurant Richmond VA”. Those searches are declining as more people realize that Google knows where your mobile phone is located. Instead, they now search for phrases like “pizza near me” or “nearby pizza shops”. For most local business owners, this is good news, especially for those not located in the center of a major city.

How can I use the Possum update to get more customers?

  1. Hire a company that specializes in “Local SEO“. There is a significant difference between “SEO” and “Local SEO”, and the Possum update made these differences even greater. Make sure they know what “schema” and “NAP” mean.
  2. Make sure your Google My Business information is 100% complete.
  3. Get positive reviews on Google, Facebook and other social sites. Make asking for reviews part of your corporate culture.

I hope this helps…