In a previous life I owned an IT related business which had a brick and mortar location. Prior to selling this company I became well acquainted with local search when Google introduced it. These days I pay even more attention to it; thankfully, at this point in my life, search results are my focus every day.

In September, I noticed some local results and 3 packs were behaving oddly. I didn’t think much of it as this stuff can completely change at the drop of a hat. It turns out that a handful of other SEO people who heavily monitor local search noticed many of the changes as well, one of them nicknaming the change Google Possum.


What it means for business owners

Google is always changing things. I am not drawing any major conclusions from the fluctuations seen in September and for all I know everything we’re seeing will be reversed in October. Also, the core algorithm is always being tweaked and there have been a lot of fluctuations seen in organic search all month long. But, there are a few things that stand out to me personally:

  1. Organic rankings do not mean local rankings. By this I mean just because you show up on page 1 does not mean you will show up in local map results. This was never the case and now it is more confusing than ever. This has been going on for a while though, as I pointed out in July. Based on what I have seen, you have about an 80% chance of showing up in local results. But this also depends heavily on what is searched, especially after the Possum update. (eg: geomodifiers)
  2. Geomodifiers matter. Adding a city name is a geomodifier. “Computer repair”, “computer repair Raleigh”, “Raleigh computer repair”, and “Computer repair Raleigh NC” could all turn up different local results. Post possum these change local results more than they did previously.
  3. Physical locations – are they important? Where the search takes place from and also where the business is located are both very important factors. Is the business inside or outside of city limits? Where is the user when searching for the business?

The initial discussion that caught my attention about possum is here where the above (and more) is discussed and debated:

Do you like the change?

One business I just started working with has yet to make the local pack. Others I have been working with longer are now showing up much more frequently. Older businesses who have dominated the pack are sharing some of the Google love now depending on what terms users search. There are some business owners who will hate this and other will love it.

Did Possum impact you and did you like the change?


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