Earlier this month, Google let one of its algorithm updates out of the cage. This one, named “Possum,” has had some pretty serious impact on local search in the 3-pack and Local Finder (what we know as Google Maps).
Our friends over at Search Engine Land hypothesize that the update is meant to “diversify the local results and also prevent spam from ranking as well.” Which is good news! No one is happy when spam sites are performing better than yours and it helps level the playing field.
What does Possum do?
- Helps businesses just outside city limits – For rural properties that are near big cities but not technically within city limits on a map view, this update will help these websites and brands rank now for city terms they previously couldn’t.
- Filters out businesses sharing an address – This mostly applies to businesses like medical, dental, and law with many practitioners sharing an office space but the update now will show one and filter out the rest leaving space for other brands to show up. For example, Drs. Jones, Adams, and Williams all work at 1063 Colorado Blvd. and if you search for “family medicine Denver,” perhaps Dr. Adams is the only one to show up at that address with the rest filtered out. Please note that these filters are not penalties, Google isn’t penalizing your brand or listing but simply filtering it out of that search. If a user zooms in on maps and refines their search, Drs. Jones and Williams will show up in the results.
- Uses the searcher’s location to refine results – The searcher’s physical location is having a stronger impact on the results they see. This has been a factor for a while but seems to be a stronger influence moving forward.
- Keyword variations – Chances are you’ve done searches with varying keywords “Denver hotels” or “hotels in Denver” and saw approximately the same websites returned in the results. Some testing is showing that in local search results the variations in keywords can produce different results or different pages being served to the user.
We’ll keep a close eye on this local update but for now continue to optimize your local directory listings following standard best practices of making sure your name, address, and phone number are consistent and you’re using location-based keywords in your descriptions.
Interested in Google local blogs? Continue reading with: 3 important Google local updates you need to know!