Are You on the Map?

The Possum Algorithm Update

22

SEPTEMBER, 2016

Whether you’re running a restaurant, a dental office, or a lawn service, local search rankings are affecting your business.  The prevalence of mobile search (think “coffee shop near me”) along with Google’s ever-present desire to show the most relevant and useful results for every searcher means one thing: as in real estate, SEO is all about location, location, location.

This month, Google is rocking the search world with an algorithm update that has been named Possum. (I don’t know why. I didn’t name it. And if we really needed to stick with the animal-that-starts-with-a-P thing to go with Penguin and Panda, I may have picked something different. Parrot. Panther. Pony. Who doesn’t like ponies? Anyway…)

 

Important things to know about Possum:

 

  1. This is about Google’s Map Pack – the three listings with the map that show up under the ads and above the organic listings.
  2. The physical location of the searcher is super important. Even more important than it was before. This is why you see different results for the search ‘dentist’ in St. Cloud and in Duluth. Google knows where a searcher is and takes that into account.
  3. Google is filtering results based on address. This is so businesses with multiple listings at one address don’t get two bites at the apple.  So if you’re a law firm that has a firm listing and a listing for each lawyer, you don’t have 3 listings on the same map.
  4. The city limits are less important. When Google first started focusing on local, the city limits got really important.  Like, don’t bother trying to rank if your business is in a suburb important. But they have fixed this, which is fantastic news for those with great ranking signals in every other way (quality content, excellent reviews, mobile-friendly sites).
  5. The map and the organic listings are breaking up. Again, this is because Google is course-correcting. When the ‘map pack’ was released a couple years back, a listing on the map hurt your listing in normal organic search. This is now seemingly no longer the case.

“The physical location of the searcher is super important….City limits are less important.”

Working with an SEO consultant can help you navigate the changes that Google goes through to make the search experience better for their users. And the Possum update, even if it is badly named (what’s up with that, SEO community?) is certainly making local search a better experience for people looking for a nearby coffee shop. Or shoe store. Or plumber. Or….

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