Many of you may be wondering what exactly “Possum” is or what does it mean? It is the name associated with the immense Local algorithm update that occurred on September 1st of 2016. Since the update, many business owners think, or were under the impression their Google My Business listings were gone, when they weren’t – they were just filtered. Thus, they were playing possum.
To our knowledge, this specific update solely impacted ranking within the Local Finder (results in Google Maps) and ranking in the 3-pack. It appears that the purpose of this is to expand the local results and to ensure that spam is not ranked. A big change was to Google’s local results filter.
Some more details…
1. Business that are outside of the physical city limits enjoyed a big increase in rankings.
Previously if a business would fall outside of city limits, they would have difficulty ranking for keywords that included a particular city. Often businesses would technically not even be considered a business in that city – per Google Maps.
Thanks to this new google update, these businesses have enjoyed spike in their local rankings.
2. Physical location is more important than ever – for users/searchers
Since the Possum update, you must ensure that your search location is set to the correct location/city when tracking rankings. Bright Local is a tool that can help you with this. Searching from Toronto, you will see completely different results as someone in Winnipeg (where the business in question is located).
3. Address and affiliation filtering from Google
Before this newest update, one would see a local filter that would filter out profiles that had a similar domain or contact number – to local results. If a health office has 4 separate listings for doctors and one for the actual practice, all profiles would usually link to the same location and phone number. Normally, one or two of these locations would be shown in local results, with the others being filtered out.
Since Possum, many businesses are now being filtered out because of the same address as another listing within their category. Google is becoming more adept at knowing who owns multiple companies within an industry.