Google has shaken up how local search works, meaning that businesses that aren’t geographically in the city centres now have more of a chance of appearing in the Map Pack than they did previously.
The search engine has also placed greater importance on a user’s physical location, and businesses that share the same address are now being filtered.
Everything you need to know about Google’s ‘Possum’ algorithm update
Wondering what’s up with local search rankings lately? Columnist Joy Hawkins has the scoop on a recent local algorithm update that local SEO experts are calling ‘Possum.’
For those of you wondering what “Possum” is, it’s the name we in the local search community decided to give the massive Local algorithm update that happened September 1, 2016.
Phil Rozek suggested the name, pointing out that it is fitting since many business owners think their Google My Business listings are gone, when in fact they are not. They have just been filtered — they’re playing possum.
What was the Update?
All the evidence seems to indicate this particular update only impacted ranking in the 3-pack and Local Finder (AKA the local results or Google Maps results). There is talk of another update that happened right after, which impacted organic results.
I believe the main purpose of the update was to diversify the local results and also prevent spam from ranking as well.
Based on the dozens of ranking reports I’ve analyzed, I would say this is the biggest update we have seen in Local since Pigeon in 2014. One of the main things that updated was Google’s filter that applies to the local results.
- Businesses that fall outside of the physical city limits saw a huge spike in ranking.
- Google is now filtering based on address and affiliation.
- The physical location of the searcher is more important than it was before.
- Search results vary more based on slight variations of the keyword searched.
- The local filter seems to be running more independently from the organic filter.
In summary, we are still seeing a lot of fluctuation, which is making me think Google is still A/B testing various ranking signals. Ranking trackers like Algoroo are still showing a lot of fluctuation in the search results. It’s possible that some of the things they changed could revert back as well.
So far, the filter seems to be holding steady, but I’m still evaluating more and more cases to see additional patterns.
Source: Search Engine Land