Google recently updated its local search algorithm to improve how search results would benefit the end user. Experts named the massive update “Possum” because it filters the Google My Business listings, which webmasters used to promote a local business earlier.
Experts say that the update only affected the Google Maps or local search results, however, some believe that it included organic results as well. According to Google, the update was meant to diversify local search results as well as to prevent spam ranking of business websites. Nevertheless, an elaborated study on the ranking reports showed that this update was the biggest since the local rankings update in Pigeon two years ago. Below is a brief look on how the Possum update affected SEO.
A business that falls outside the city limits had to struggle a lot to be included in the search engine results page for a keyword that included that particular city’s name in it. Google Maps marked such businesses outside the vicinity of the searcher, and they were excluded from the list, no matter how reliable or genuine the business was. However, after the Possum update, a search query with a specific city name includes the nearby businesses alongside the local companies that are within the city limits.
Earlier, Google applied the duplicate content filter on local searches also. It means that the search results page would not display profiles with the same phone number or website domain. After the update though, Google is filtering the results based on local address and affiliation. Some experts say that this might filter a lot of businesses unreasonably, because two companies can sometimes share the same address sometimes. However, Google allows users to zoom in on the Local Finder map and see the filtered listings, if required.
Local searches with the city name in it allow Google to deliver more advanced results. However, even if there were a slight variation in the keyword, say, using the abbreviation of a city name after the keyword instead of the full name, the listings in the results page would vary greatly. Also, placing the city name after the keyword would show different results on Google than what it would when you use the city name before the keyword.
Besides the above points, reports also indicate that the location of the end user is also a key in determining the listings on the Google search results page. It seems as if Google Possum filters run more independently than going hand in hand with the organic search results filter.