Possum Update and Local Search
Industry chatter indicates that Google has made a tweak to the local search tool over the last few weeks. Without an official announcement from the search engine, SEO’s have dubbed the change the “Possum” update. So what does this update mean for users of the three pack results.
Better Understanding of Area Affinity
One of the issues with the search was that companies who had a physical address in a nearby town, tended not to rank as well, as businesses based within the area. This gave businesses a boost in areas where they were not active and dismissed the tendency for shoppers to visit alternative towns, rather than simply the nearest.
Local Listings Show Some Independence from Organic Listings
In the USA, businesses whose sites are missing from organic search have begun to appear in local listings. This suggests that there is some level of independence between the two listing types, perhaps providing an extra opportunity for businesses that are not linked.
Multiple Partners in a Business Are No Longer Listed
There have been many examples of business addresses being home to multiple partners in the same business. For instance, dentist’s offices typically have more than one dental surgeon. The most recent change means that it is more likely to show one listing for such a practice (usually an overall listing or surgery page), rather than one for each dentist. A similar effect is likely to be seen for lawyers and other such business users.
There may also be a knock on effect for people working in business centres or taking a floor in an office tower, however, information from the US suggests that the decision to remove a listing is linked to the ownership record of the company. There appear to be some ability to list businesses based on ownership, but this is largely built on speculation.
The search city of the user is now more important when looking for a service. This means that the further you are away from the office or head office the lower the ranking will be in the three pack.
Search Keyword Variations
Evidence since the change suggests that slightly differing keywords are returning different searches. This is due to Google’s new tool, attempting to match the search result more closely. This can be a negative for sites who may see themselves being dropped from results for the more popular search.
Our SEO team will keep an eye on “Possum” as it continues it roll out and as we await an official word from Google