Case study category:

The Impact of Possum Updates on Local Search Results

Local search results before and after Possum update.
Google on September 1, 2016 secretly released an update which is dearly called Possum by the SEO community. Possum update by Google only affects local search results. To make this simpler, if you are not apprehensive about the location factor, this update will not make any difference to you. Google’s latest algorithm update Possum is significant and shows ostensibly positive results towards users and local businesses. Local business, like mom and pop stores, laundries, bakeries or even plumbing services need to be pushed on local searches. Possum isn’t an update officially announced by Google. Enthusiastic local SEO experts came to a conclusion after noticing behavioural changes in the search results.

Mozcat and Algoroo are awesome in the art of tracking shifts in search results, but to a surprise Possum algorithm update did not create a buzz in their charts. This is a possibility as, the SERP might not contain a 3-pack, and that’s possibly the reason as to why these big chances would not show up on the radar.

The urge of knowing exactly how much difference this algorithm got to Local/Map results alone, was cleared by Local Finder. They track organic ranking as well as ranking (Here the local results list is arrived at when we click” more place” under the 3-pack”). And with ranking results that scan on daily basis it is easier to pick out major changes, without keeping a track of the exact day of occurrence.

Live case scenario – An experiment done with ranking trackers for 1,307 businesses of different nature being tracked for 14,242 keywords, comparing the difference for the month of September and August (These are dates before Possum) below is the outcome.

Outcome across all projects-

Local search results before and after Possum update

9% of the new keywords made the business pop in Local Finder.
11% of the keywords displayed an increase in position by three or more places.
15% keywords displayed that business had an increase in position by one or two places.
35% portrayed no change towards position for business.
15% keywords displayed that business had dropped one or two positions.
14% keywords displayed that business position had a drop by more than three places.

Putting this in a more complied manner, 64% of keywords experienced some sort of change.
We all are aware about the fact that, SERP’s change on daily basis even without any algorithm changes. Vastness of the change is something that gets us thinking.
The time has arrived when Local SEO practitioners start spending time analyzing shifts and changes in order to figure out the Local Ranking Factors that changed as an effect of Possum.

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