Google rolled out without fanfare the ‘Possum’ (as named by SEOs) update on September 1, 2016, but unlike the majority of their updates, this only impacts local search. If you’re looking to rank high for local search, pay close attention.
It’s Now Easier to Rank Even if your Business is Outside the City
Before, local SEO specialists have some difficulty ranking businesses for a particular city even if their address was only outside the limits of the city they’re trying to target. Now, however, the Possum update uses a proximity test for determining the ability of a business to rank for that city. This means that if the business is near the city they’re targeting, it could now rank using that city name, explains SEO professionals and digital media agencies in Melbourne.
Location Really, Really Matters
The newest update makes results of local search dependent on the location of the searcher. Before the update, Google used search terms for determining which results to display, but now, it makes use of the searcher’s IP address to offer more accurate search results.
Google Now Filters According to Address
Google isn’t keen on showing searchers the same listing multiple times in SERPs, most especially with local search queries. What if a business has multiple listings but only for one website? Prior to the update, Google filtered all duplicate listing according to a domain name or phone number, now, it only filters them according to the listing’s physical address, meaning that Google won’t filter out other listings for the same business, but will only push down their rank.
Organic Filter is Now a Thing of the Past
Before Possum, Google didn’t display some local listings in SERPs simply because they linked to websites that Google filtered in organic results. Following the update, the filter for local search now functions independently of the filter for organic search.
Possum is Highly Sensitive to Minor Keyword Tweaks
At present, even the most minor keyword variations could generate various search results. It’s still unclear why the update is so particular about keyword variations, but it’s critical to understand that you will have to test a wide array of keyword variations when you test for local SEO, even if your keywords are very similar to each other.
Undoubtedly, Google will roll out more tweaks in the near future, but for now, all SEOs targeting local search would have to adapt to these changes to stay relevant in SERPs.