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Braindrop: Possum Update [Video]

Sarah Werner, a senior UX content strategist at Click Rain, talks about the recent Google search algorithm update, dubbed Possum, and discusses its potential impact on local search results.

  • Transcript

    Hi friends. I'm Sarah Werner. I'm one of Click Rain's Senior UX Content Strategists, and I'm here to talk to you about Possum. I'm not talking about the evil looking, ugly version of a cat. I'm actually talking about what has been called the latest update in the Google algorithm.

    Possum is the biggest update in Google's local algorithm since the 2014 Pigeon update. Possum only affects local search. Basically Google is billing this as a quality control change in their algorithm, and it does four things.

    • Number one, they are looking to continue to weed out duplicates.
    • Number two, they are looking to weed out spam. In this case, spam is referring to businesses that have multiple listings or what we call virtual offices. They're using them to sort of crowd other businesses out of the Google local search results.
    • Number three, they are looking to include more diversity so as we get rid of the spammers and the people with multiple listings. Hopefully what Google wants to do is to get more diversity within that three pack of results. This also includes businesses located maybe slightly outside of the city that weren't included before when someone was performing a local search. So if you are a plumber in Harrisburg but you also serve Sioux Falls, you now have a greater chance of showing up in Sioux Falls local results.
    • Finally Google's looking to include more tailored results, taking the user's location a little bit more into consideration when delivering local search results.

    So your question at this point is, will this affect me? It might affect you if you are one of multiple businesses in an office location. So if you're a dentist in a building with a whole bunch of other dentists. Since you're all in the same physical address, Google will only show one of you, whichever one of you is most pertinent to the keyword search that the user performed.

    I want to be very clear that this is not a penalty. Hopefully if you are not being spammy, this should actually help your business. So if you weren't showing up before in the Google local search results, you might be showing up now which is awesome. There you have it. That is a short rundown on the Possum update.

    Thanks for watching. I'm Sarah Werner. Stay awesome, possums.

Update: SearchEngineLand's Joy Hawkins has shown that 64% of keywords saw some type of change as a result of the Possum update, which is quite a shake-up. She has noted that 34% of this change is "significant", which means that businesses shifted three or more positions in local rankings, or appeared in the local search results when they hadn't appeared within the first three pages in the Local Finder before.

We'll be sure to keep you posted as we hear more.