On 1st September 2016, Google released a massive update to their local algorithm, that the local SEO experts are calling Possum. This new update has completely shaken up how local search works, as many businesses are under the impression that they have lost their business listing, but these listings, in reality, have just been filtered.
Analyzing how Possum really changed the local search landscape will help in understanding how it has affected the listings. The major changes that were incurred by this update are:
The address is not the issue anymore
If the address of your local business falls right outside the physical city limits for a particular city, they had a hard time ranking for any keyword that included the city name. The main reason for this was that according to Google maps they don't fall into a city “technically”.
After the release of Possum, these businesses saw a massive increase in their local ranking. The actual city limits are playing less of a role.
Previously, a filter was applied to the local results that filtered out profiles that shared same phone number or domain. Usually only one or two of these would show up while others would be filtered out.
Since this update, a new category in the filters has been added. It’s the address. A lot of businesses are filtered out now due to having the same address. Now, only one result is shown while the other listings are pushed down.
The physical location of a target audience matters
Since the possum update, its important to make sure the audience location is set to the right city when tracking ranking.
Variation in search results based on the variations in keywords
There have been a lot of fluctuations between similar keywords. Even a slight keyword variation is giving out a new result. Earlier, the results were fairly similar.
Local Filter Precedence
Google's local filter is working independently from its organic filter. Previously, if Google had filtered the organic listing out of the search results, this would have an impact on the local search rankings. Both the local filter and the organic filter are less connected to each other than they were before.
There are still a lot of fluctuations in the rankings. There is a possibility that Google reverts some of the changes that have been made. However, the filters seem to be steady so far.