Will Google's Possum Turn Your Rankings Into Roadkill?

These days it seems like Google is constantly updating and editing their algorithms. Just as everyone is getting used to new changes, rankings go haywire and the realization that we’re in for another overhaul sets in. September brought another round of updates, this time with a shake up in the way Google ranks local business search results. The update, lovingly being called “Possum”, was made on September 1st and consists mostly of new ways that the local filter will diversify the results users see and prevent spam from ranking in the top of the list.

One of these changes greatly benefits those businesses that lie outside of city limits for the location they want to target. Previously, if a user searched for a service city name, only businesses that lie within city limits would show up in the top of the results list. Now, businesses outside city limits have seen a significant rise in their rankings for those searches, assuming the city name is included in their keywords. Additionally, some local search results may include links to websites that are otherwise filtered out, meaning the organic and local filters are working more independently from each other than they were in the past.

Another change is the elimination of multiple listings for one business showing up in the same search results list. Businesses with similar phone numbers and domains were already being filtered before the update, but now businesses with the same address that fall into the same category are also being filtered out. This allows users to see more diverse results, but can have negative effects for industries such as health care or law that may have several practices working out of the same building. Luckily, providing Google with the individual business licenses can fix the issue in these instances.

Google has also used this update to place even more emphasis on the location the user is searching from. For instance, if you search for “veterinarian Chicago IL” while in Los Angeles, a business that may have ranked high for users searching in Chicago may rank significantly lower for you. This change mostly affects marketers who may be tracking a business’s rankings from another location, however there are plenty of online tools to edit the location you are searching from.

Lastly, the new changes have made the order in which keywords appear in a search more important. With the update, rankings of search results for “Little Rock digital marketing” may be different from those for “digital marketing Little Rock”. To continue to show up in the top of both sets of results, businesses should be sure to include multiple variations of their keywords on their website.

Despite these obvious changes that have happened since the update, marketers are still seeing lots of fluctuation in search results and anticipate that Google is still tinkering with the algorithm. At Pixel Perfect we work diligently to stay on top of these changes and make sure our clients’ strategies follow suit. If you have questions or need help with your SEO, give us a call at 501-537-2246 or fill out Get Started form today!

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