Google’s Possum Update: Will This Affect Your Local SEO?

Creative Commons image by Tires 8 (Flickr).

Creative Commons image by Tires 8 (Flickr).

Yet another Google update has become active! You might or might not have seen any impacts from Penguin, Panda or Pigeon, but this one might be more likely to make a difference when it comes to local SEO. Possum rolled out on September 1, but things are still changing, so if you see a difference at the moment, you might not see one this time next month or three months from now. As with all of Google’s algorithm changes, a lot of this will require waiting and seeing. Here are some of the changes that might impact your local SEO:


Out-of-city-limit companies might get more business.


Prior to the Possum update, it was difficult for those companies who are located out of city limits to show up in the top three results for any given keyword. This was true even if their address and zipcode matched those located within city limits. Now Google isn’t penalizing these businesses for their physical locations. Instead, they will tend to show up more for certain keywords based on their postal addresses. What this means for you is that if you are located in an unincorporated area or CDP outside of official city limits but you still have a zipcode indicating that you are part of that city, you will likely get more hits.


Those with fake addresses and post office boxes might be penalized.


You’re not supposed to be using false addresses or PO boxes on your Google My Business account, but this is enforced fairly inconsistently in some cases. Now, though, businesses with false addresses (or, in some cases, duplicate addresses) will likely find themselves dropped out of the top three search results. It’s not actually a penalty, because the business will likely still be in the search results; they’ll just miss being in the “three-pack.”


The location of the user matters.


If you are in Orlando and you search for “florists in Orlando,” you’ll now get different results than if you are in Miami searching for “florists in Orlando.” This can affect your search results if you are using “florists near me” as a keyword or if you are a business that routinely gets clients and customers from other areas of the state, country or world.


The keywords used matter.


There’s not a surefire rhyme or reason for this, but searching for “Orlando florists,” “florists in Orlando,” and “florists Orlando FL” will likely bring up different results on the three-pack. It might be helpful to check out where your business is being ranked the highest when it comes to variations on common keywords.


Google likes to keep us guessing, and the Possum update is no exception. Stay tuned for more information as Google finishes up its testing of the various factors and makes more long-term changes to this update.