Changes to SEO with possum update

Occasionally there are large shifts in the way Google search results are categorized that leave those in the SEO community with the impression that there has been a major update in algorithms.


One of the main reasons that your business needs a digital marketing agency with SEO expertise is that the parameters Google uses to search for businesses and display the results is in a constant state of flux. It can literally change at any time. The engineers at Google are constantly working to improve the search algorithms. Anytime the SEO experts detect a change in rankings, a disturbance in the force if you will, there’s usually a period of confusion and uncertainty in the SEO community.


For example, on September 1, 2016, Google quietly released an update, nicknamed “Possum” by the SEO community. This update impacted local search results and, more importantly, local small businesses.


What is the “Possum” Update?


Why is this newest update called “possum?” It is not because someone found a tiny creature in the backyard. The term “possum” was coined by Phil Rozek, who called it that because of the difficulty businesses had finding their listings, leading Mr. Rozek to claim that Google was “playing possum” with the listings.

And here are a few things we have learned about the possum update, and much of what we know impacts local small businesses, so you will want to know it too.

How has “Possum” Changed the Local Results?

As we discussed in a prior blog,  Google’s possum update made local search results even more location-specific than they already were. The new local SERPs aren’t focused on only listing businesses that have a large presence and domain authority, but rather, they’re more aligned around proximity and relevance. Three of the largest changes from Possum are:


  1. Addresses on the outskirts of the city limits have more of a chance for exposure than before.
  2. Multiple listings under the same address are filtered out.
  3. The location where you initiate your search is more important than ever.


What Possum Means for Local SEO


The Possum update is great news for companies that rely on local communities to stay in business. By improving the results on a neighborhood level and extending the results beyond the city limits, more companies have a chance to rank on a SERP. Google results will now be better for customers, which means less time scouring the web for a local company.


Prior to Possum, a law firm in Encinitas, CA would have difficulty ranking for keywords like “law firm San Diego,”  but with Possum, their chances increase significantly. It seems that Google’s logic was to make an update that leveled the playing field between businesses located in city limits and those located in surrounding areas.

Local Search Solutions for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses

As Google’s approach to local searching grows in sophistication, so too will its algorithm. Although these changes probably will always favor the user, keeping track of them can be difficult for local business. Infinity Digital is here to answer any questions you may have about how the changes impact your rankings. We specialize in local SEO here in Bucks County, and we have helped companies improve their ranking by understanding these updates. 

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