The Google Possum Update Is Not A Penalty & Should Be Embraced

Google Possum Local SEO Update

Possum. The unfortunate name of Google’s new algorithm update impacting its local search results. And while a its name might sound unappealing, we at Captivate Local welcome and embrace Possum. Below we share why.

Many professionals in the local SEO community agree that Possum is a quality update from Google in an effort filter and improve its local SERPs. While many SEO’s have not yet witnessed significant changes in both local and and organic rankings, the underlying perception of Possum and its intentions are positive.

In conversation between local SEO experts, Joy Hawkins and Conrad Saam, Hawkins (who also covered this topic in a top ranking post titled Everything you need to know about Google’s ‘Possum’ algorithm update) shares a few noteworthy reasons behind the purpose of Possum.

Getting Real With The Google Possum Update

If you have the time, the conversation below gets into the nitty-gritty about the Google Possum update. Below we recap some of the noteworthy topics, underscoring why Possum should be embraced by ethical SEO’s.

Filter Duplicate Listings

In the conversation, Hawkins makes a great example of a single law firm that may staff upwards to five attorneys, each with their own listings. While in the past this firm could dominate the local SERPs by ranking multiple listing for each attorney, Google Possum will now filter the results to show only one attorney listing from the firm.

In essence, Google has become incredibly intelligent at pinpointing multiple listings under the same business. Hawkins shares another compelling example of a business having two unique names and addresses still getting filtered because of its location being under the same roof. In short, Possum can now filter local SERPs based on affiliation and address.

Physical Location Of The Searcher Is Now More Significant

After the Google Possum update, the location of the searcher carries much greater significance to the local SERPs shown. In Hawkin’s latter mentioned post, she says:

“A company contacted us for a consultation, worried about this algorithm update. They noticed that a ton of their locations were no longer ranking in the 3-pack. When we looked into it, it turned out that since they were searching from their head office in Alabama, they were seeing something totally different than a user down in Texas, where one of the businesses was located. The business was in Richland Hills, Texas, and the farther away you got from the city when searching, the more zoomed out the map got, and the more the listing dropped in ranking as a result. “

Perhaps the biggest influence this has on local SEO’s is to ensure searcher location is set to the right city when tracking rankings, otherwise data may be skewed.

But Physical Location of Businesses Are Less Important

A common challenge among local SEO’s is this: if a business is located outside the physical city limits for a particular city, then they often have difficult time ranking for any keywords associated with that city name. According to Google Maps, these businesses often don’t “technically” fall under a particular city, thus inhibiting their search visibility.

Based on Hawkins’ discoveries after the Possum update, they witnessed a client’s rankings improve 21 positions, going from #31 to #10 in Google local search. Hawkins and her team also witnessed the same pattern for all other businesses that fell into this outlier category.

The Takeaway on Google Possum

Possum is not a penalty, and sites are not being de-indexed. Rather, the Google Possum update is an adjustment to better cleanup the local SERPs and level the playing field.

Hawkins wraps it best by claiming that “Google isn’t removing the listing or preventing it from ranking for anything at all. Instead, it works much like the organic filter, which picks the ‘best’ and most relevant listing and filters others that are too similar.

This why believe Google Possum is an algo update that should be embraced (unless you work for one of those law firms with duplicate practice listings…)


Image credit: Jay-Be-88