Algorithm Rolled Out: September, 2016

Algorithm Summary: Overall Gist

In the next round of our look at Google algorithms, we look at Google Possum and how it affects local search results. Google never publicly verified this algorithm tweak, which was first implemented in September 2016. When it was launched, it modified the way local results were shown in SERPs, which delighted some company owners while distressing others. We investigate why Google Possum generated such a commotion.

What Exactly Is Google Possum?

Google Possum is a 2016 algorithm modification designed to boost local search results. The Possum algorithm’s main goal was to diversify local search results and filter out spam results that may have previously ranked.

The Possum update was the largest Google algorithm modification since the Pigeon upgrade in 2014. While the Possum upgrade did diversify local SERPs, it also had the unintended consequence of filtering out certain local company citations from the local pack and local finder. Organizations with the same address, such as a shared office space, were being filtered out of local results when Google began to provide only one or two results from a single location. Research done at the time of the update found that the Possum algorithm upgrade harmed 64% of firms out of a sample of over 1,300.

Google Possum Algorithm Update Impacts

The Possum algorithm modification affects numerous sorts of businesses and various factors that are now critical.

  • Businesses Located Outside of Cities

Organizations located beyond the outer town/city center, or the region Google classifies as the city border, have begun to appear in local results for that town/city since the change. This aided numerous businesses that had been failing to rank for local phrases like ‘Used Car Dealership Birmingham’ since their physical location was assumed to be outside the city borders Google had defined.

  • Filtering Businesses in the Same Location

Prior to this algorithm upgrade, Google would apply a local filter to search results, for example, removing results with the same domain or phone number. Previously, if three independent attorneys worked in the same office, each with an additional listing for the practice in which they all worked, just one or two of them would appear in SERPs. This was done in order to eliminate duplicate content from listings.

Following the Possum update, comparable companies with the same address were filtered out. For example, if many legal firms were operating in the same building (even though they each had their own website), only one or two of them would appear in local search results. There is an option to remove this filter from the listings in order to view everything, but because the ordinary user would not be aware of this, the modification had a detrimental impact on many businesses. The same scenario happens when two companies on the same street are owned by the same people. Both will rank, but due to the Possum change, they will seldom appear together in SERPs, even if they have distinct locations, domains, and NAPs. However, this is not a Google punishment; it is simply how Possum filters local search results.

  • The searcher’s location is critical.

Since the Possum update, the user’s physical position has become even more important. If the searcher’s actual location is in Birmingham, for example, and they search ‘SEO agency Birmingham,’ their results will differ from those of someone looking in London whose location settings are not set to Birmingham. As a result, location settings are an important factor to consider when analyzing local search results.

How To Recover From Google Possum

There is no straightforward technique to ensure that your business is featured since ranking changes and being filtered out of local results are not a punishment by Google. There are, however, certain efforts you can do to urge Google to rank your site higher than competitors.

  1. Google strives to provide users with the best and most relevant results for their queries, so ensuring your local SEO is superior to others is critical if you want to be included. Improve your site’s domain authority by increasing links, optimizing content, and providing reliable citations to persuade Google to place your site above rivals. Conduct a competition study on sites that are ranking higher than you or are not being filtered out in order to uncover prospects for your own site.
  • Because Google has started removing identical companies in the same location, it may be worth updating your company category in Google My Business. You may boost your exposure by doing something different than your competition. However, you must exercise caution while doing so, since changing your category to something less relevant or widely searched for can result in significant changes in impressions and ranks.

Why Do We Care?

In summary, Google’s Possum algorithm change had a significant influence on local search results by removing many businesses that had the same location and/or were owned by the same parent corporation. While some companies witnessed a gain in their search results and impressions, others became nearly invisible in local search due to Possum’s heightened filtering. Possum-related difficulties may be addressed by improving your site’s overall local SEO and modifying your Google My Business profile. Visit Slick Plan’s blog to learn more about the value of local SEO for your business!

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