What has the effect of Google’s “Possum” update been so far?

On September 1st, Google released another algorithm update. SEO experts have termed this the “Possum” update. The name was suggested by Phil Rozek, who thought the name was apt considering the Google My Business listings have now been filtered which can make it seem as if they are no longer there – as if they are “playing possum”.

What has the update involved?

Google’s latest algorithm update has been the biggest since their Pigeon update in 2014. The changes so far have included alterations in local location-based results and in Google Maps. The exact purpose of this update is not yet clear, but it is possibly to filter out spam, as well as diversifying local search results. For example, some businesses are being filtered out of Local Business Finder searches depending on their relevance, showing more targeted results.

Changes in SEO rankings for businesses

Following the update, businesses are gradually beginning to rank more easily for keywords with a specific city or location that doesn’t fit their physical address. For example a company that is technically based in Surrey (according to Google Maps) but serves customers across London used to find it more difficult to rank for keywords using the word “London”, but this new update should resolve this.

Filtering of multiple business listings

In some cases, businesses have been known to show in local searches as multiple listings – just with a number of named staff to the same address. Google’s new Possum update seems to be filtering these multiple business listings out, and leaving fewer results showing. Google Maps then shows multiple listings when the Maps are zoomed in.

Targeted search results based on location

The Possum algorithm update has also meant a change in the way that results are displayed depending on the location of the search. Certain results will not show in some locations, yet will display to someone searching closer by. This is just one way that Google is delivering more targeted results based on the location of search.

Greater differentiation between keywords

Since the update, there seems to be a greater differentiation between the keywords searched for and the results displayed. For example “Google SEO Update” can be showing more varied results than when compared to “SEO Update Google”. Results are also being affected depending on whether specific websites are being ranked organically or locally, since these filters are now seemingly becoming more independent.

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Author: Steve Pailthorpe - Follow us on