“Possum” is the novel name that was given to Google’s new algorithm which was released on September 1st, 2016. A lot of businesses though that their Google My Business Listings disappeared, but this not the case--they are actually being filtered by Google and “playing possum” by those in the field of the local search community.
So far, it appears that this recent update only affects local listings (i.e. Google Maps) and rankings in the 3-packs. There was another update after September 1st, one which may affect organic filters. SEO experts think this update was done to diversify and expand the rank list and filter out spam.
1. Businesses outside the normal city limits are getting higher rankings:
1 . Prior to this new update, businesses outside of city limits had much lower and inferior rankings compared to businesses within city limits. Since the new update, businesses that are out of the city limits have raised significantly in the rank lists due to how Google is now filtering the searches.
2. Google filters based on address and affiliation:
Google is getting smarter and shrewder by being able to decipher affiliations with different businesses. If someone owns multiple businesses at different locations, Google may only bring up one of the business locations on the rank list depending on exactly what key words were used. They try to link the most relevant and applicable business locations with the key word search. Also, if there are two businesses in the same building, even though they may have different addresses, Google may only bring up one depending on the key word search instead of both like it used to.
3. The location of the searcher has more of an impact on the search results than before:
The location of the searcher is very important to the rank list if you are in a different city and searching for jobs in another city or state. Your search will have a significantly different list of businesses compared to searching for businesses within the city you are in.
4. Minor changes in keywords significantly change the search results:
Key words have become even more important in this update. In the past, if you had key words link to certain sites, then Google was more generous and did not necessarily care as much about the exact order of the key words. Now, it is much more important for the order in which key words are used. State abbreviations can also make a big impact on what will pull up in the list ranking.
5. Local filters appear to run independently from the organic filter:
In the past, local searches ran congruently and consistently with Google’s organic filter. Now, it appears this local search runs independently to Google’s organic search engine. This characteristic allows for a greater variety and variability of businesses to show up on Google’s rank list.
There still seems to be significant variation in the search results, which makes experts think Google is running tests on the algorithm. Experts are using different ranking trackers to find trends in Google’s algorithm. Will see if patterns will emerge in the exciting days ahead.