Digital Marketing digital marketing Google algorithm Google Update

Google’s Possum Algorithm

It’s a zoo out there. For marketers and advertisers alike, it’s hard to control your organic search rankings with all the Google updates; Pandas, Penguins, Pigeons and Hummingbirds to keep track of. We know it’s important, but why?

In a 2015 study done by Eli Swartz, Google dominated other search engines like Yahoo, Bing and Duck Duck Go by a landslide. Seventy-five percent of responders to a survey stated that Google was their primary search engine, and in 2016 the percentage is only rising.

So what does that mean for local and organic search, or search in general? For one, it means that SEO has to continue to abide by the rules each algorithm puts forth during their updates. It also means search engine marketers have to take into account Google’s new local algorithm update, Possum. Here’s why.

About Possum

You may not have seen a drastic change in your local organic listings in September, but a recent study shows that Google’s Possum Algorithm changed sixty-four percent of local SERPs. The debut of Possum in September impacted website rankings in the local 3-pack and Local Finder. The biggest impact Possum currently has on search results is filtering your business out if it has a duplicate, similar or second listing. This update runs separately from organic SERPs, and affects the following types of businesses:

  1. Businesses outside of city limits.
  2. Separate businesses location at the same address as a similar business.
  3. Two or more businesses owned by the same company.

Playing Possum Outside of City Limits

One of the biggest and most beneficial changes seen for the new Possum update are rankings for businesses outside of their own city limits. With the algorithm in place, businesses that are attempting to rank in the local 3-pack or Local Finder for the town over are having an easier time doing so, and may have already seen rankings in those areas increase drastically. With Possum in place, there is a need now more than ever for all search engine marketers to do more to go local with their SEO campaigns. Going local with your SEO will help to increase traffic and revenue to your site, as well as improve local rankings and authority in the SERPs.

[Ready to become a local? Learn more about local SEO in this checklist.]


Separate Business Locations at the same Address as a Similar Business

This is where Possum comes into full-effect. Businesses of similar industries located in the same building will begin to be filtered out and ultimately won’t show up for the same search. Keyword variation plays a more important role as this algorithm continues to make its way across search. That means that attorneys, lawyers, dentists, and chiropractors located in the same building will rank locally for different keywords than a similar or competitive businesses at the same location.

One Algorithm, One Parent Company and Two Businesses

Although not as apparent as the other two listings, Possum’s update has also affected separate businesses owned by one company. One business remains filtered out in all searches for certain keyword terms while the other business continues to show up in the search results. While there isn’t a way around the filter (yet), we’re trusting Google to test, tweak and update their newest algorithm to differentiate the two businesses as separate rooftops, even if they have the same parent company.


Streams Kick Start Step: If you haven’t already invested in link building, you should start. Google still views quality links that point to your website as a vote of confidence. The more local, quality and authoritative links you have pointing back to your site, the more likely you are to rank in the local SERPs.


Taking Action

While Google seems to still be working out and testing their newest algorithm, it’s always a good idea to stay ahead of the next update. In order to take action, one thing that is extremely beneficial for your local SEO strategy is to start incorporating local content and putting a heavy focus on off-page SEO if you haven’t already. When incorporating local and off-page SEO, you have a recipe for success to maintain and improve your local rankings.


Take SEO a step further. Download this FREE SEO Checklist to learn 17 ways to improve your organic search results, where to start with a link building strategy and steps to integrating content into your SEO campaign.

Happy Optimizing,