Google Possum Algorithm Definition:

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Google Possum is an unconfirmed update that rolled out around September 2016. Its main effect was to diversify the local search results and to prevent spam from ranking well. It primarily affected local search rankings, impacting the way the local algorithm worked.

Google Possum Algorithm Update: A Comprehensive Guide

Google’s Possum algorithm update was introduced in September 2016, and it primarily affected local search results. The goal was to provide more varied results by taking into consideration the searcher’s location and the business’s proximity to that location. It also aimed to diversify the local results and prevent spam from ranking well. Here’s what you might need to do to adapt to the Possum update:

Effects on Local Listings

Location Matters: Businesses that are closer to the searcher’s physical location seemed to get a boost.
Business Affiliation: Different businesses sharing a phone number or address were filtered, avoiding too many similar results.
Searcher’s Location: The searcher’s physical location became more important in serving customized results.

Impact on SEO

More Competition in Local Search: Businesses just outside city limits saw an increase in rankings.
More Varied Results: Keywords and slight changes to them began to produce more varied local search results.
Reduction in Spam: Efforts were made to prevent businesses with fraudulent affiliations from ranking well.

How to Adapt to Possum

  1. Verify Your Business Information:
    • Ensure your Google My Business listing is accurate.
    • Keep your name, address, phone number, and other details consistent across all online platforms.
  2. Emphasize Location-Specific SEO:
    • Target location-specific keywords in your Content and meta tags.
    • Include location information in titles, headings, and ALT tags.
  3. Encourage Customer Reviews:
    • Request reviews from satisfied customers.
    • Respond to reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional manner.
  4. Optimize for Mobile Search:
    • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly, as local searches often come from mobile devices.
    • Test your site’s performance on various mobile devices.
  5. Build Local Citations:
    • Create profiles on local business directories and community websites.
    • Ensure consistency in all your online citations.
    • (Business directories like apple maps, yelp and yellow pages)
  6. Avoid Keyword Stuffing:
    • Write naturally and for your audience, not search engines.
    • Avoid overusing location-based keywords.
  7. Monitor Your Competitors:
    • Keep an eye on competitors in your immediate vicinity.
    • Adjust your strategies based on competitor movements and market trends.
  8. Utilize Schema Markup:
    • Implement local business schema to provide search engines with detailed information about your business.
    • Test your schema to ensure it’s implemented correctly.
  9. Provide High-Quality Content:
    • Offer valuable content that caters to local interests and needs.
    • Regularly update your content to keep it fresh and relevant.
  10. Offer Clear Contact Information:
    • Include easily accessible contact details on your site.
    • Add a map to your location if applicable.
  11. Analyze Performance Regularly:
    • Use tools like Google Analytics to monitor your local search performance.
    • Adjust strategies as needed based on data-driven insights.
  12. Build Community Engagement:
    • Engage with local events and community activities.
    • Highlight local partnerships or sponsorships on your website.
  13. Avoid Spammy Techniques:
    • Don’t create fake locations or misleading information.
    • Stick to ethical SEO practices.
  14. Collaborate with Nearby Non-Competing Businesses:
    • Consider cross-promotions or partnerships with complementary local businesses.
    • Share insights and strategies for local engagement.
  15. Stay Informed About Algorithm Changes:
    • Keep up with SEO news and updates related to local search.
    • Regularly review Google’s guidelines for local businesses.

Criticisms and Challenges

  1. Fluctuations in Rankings: Many businesses reported significant fluctuations in their local rankings following the Possum update, causing uncertainty and confusion.
  2. Overemphasis on Business Location: Businesses located outside city limits reported challenges with local visibility. The update tended to favor businesses that were physically located closest to the point of the searcher.
  3. Filtering of Similar Businesses: The Possum algorithm was reported to filter out profiles of businesses in the same category that share an address or are close together. This was particularly problematic for businesses in office complexes or shared spaces.
  4. Increased Competition for Local Businesses: By diversifying local results, Possum made it harder for a single business to dominate the local listings.
  5. Lack of Transparency: As with many of Google’s algorithm updates, the search engine giant did not provide clear details on how the Possum algorithm functioned, making it difficult for SEO professionals and business owners to adapt.
  6. Keyword Variations Affected Rankings: Even slight variations in the wording of a search query or the location from which the search was conducted could affect the businesses shown in local results.
  7. Impact on Localized Organic Results: Possum seemed to cause a divergence in localized organic results and local pack results, which had previously been more closely aligned.
  8. Difficulty Understanding Changes: Many businesses found it difficult to understand why their rankings had changed following the Possum update, especially since Google didn’t confirm the update initially.
  9. Potential for Spamming: There were concerns that businesses could manipulate their business listings (for example, by using a slightly different business name or address) to appear as separate entities and avoid being filtered out.
  10. Negative Impact on Small Businesses: Smaller businesses, especially those with fewer resources to analyze changes in local rankings and adjust their strategies, faced difficulties due to Possum

Google Possum Algorithm QUOTE:

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"Possum is making everything we knew about local SEO obsolete." - Joy Hawkins, Local SEO Expert
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Article By: Nathan Ergang


Nathan Ergang, the web developer behind, he has over a decade of WordPress and online marketing expertise. His venture into the expansive universe of web development started in 2012, though his passion for personal projects took root much earlier. A practitioner of multiple web languages such as PHP, JavaScript, jQuery, CSS, and Python, Nathan has also deep-dived into SEO and possesses a keen eye for graphic design. Green Marketing, a venture close to Nathan's heart, stands testament to his entrepreneurial drive and commitment. Outside the digital domain, Nathan savors life's simpler pleasures. He cherishes traveling, often venturing off the beaten path, and has a knack for capturing the essence of a moment through photography and videography.

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