google-possum-bannerSome of you may have already noticed something different about the results your search engine has been producing, and if you think your business listing has disappeared, never fear: a simple update may be the culprit. At the end of September, Google released a major update to their search algorithm called “Possum” that affects local search rankings in a major way. Find out what this means for your local business online.

Why an Update?

Google updated its search algorithm in an attempt to create more diverse local search results and to weed out the spam that had worked its way into higher listings. Google now uses a filter that is designed to prevent false listing from appearing in search results. How often this filter is updated isn’t exactly clear, so you may find that it will change from time to time. The businesses that are processed through the new spam filter are often accurately marked as fake while other, legal and very real listings may fall through the cracks. While this is not ideal, the number of fraudulent listings that are flagged and prevented make up for the few honest listings that get caught up in the spam filter.

How Local Business Listings Are Being Affected

Before Googles latest update, local businesses that fell within city limits didn’t have much difficulty with the right SEO words landing them a good spot on a listing. Since the update that has all changed. Businesses that fall just out of local city limits have seen a significant increase in their listing rank. Business are also being filtered by affiliation, and it is much more complex than you think. Two businesses that have the same owner, yet are entirely different entities with different employees and a different address face the possibility of taking turns as to which business will show up in the search results.

Duplicates are being filtered for redundancy amongst other things, from duplicate addresses (although different businesses) to business licenses for multiple business run owned by the same person. The reasoning behind the newest Google update and the way it filters listings has the best intentions for its users, as it attempts to simplify search results while providing real business listings. However, as stated earlier, real business can be filtered out of search results simply for having the same address or owner. Google users not only miss out on helpful listings, but business owners may potentially lose out on quite a big deal of money.

Some Listings Haven’t Been Removed, They Are Just Harder to Find.

The SEO words that have been producing search results before now may need to be tweaked to produce the same results. The order in which you enter words in the search engine, including the words themselves and the abbreviation, all have a bearing in what sort of results you will receive. This can make finding a particular listing and choosing the correct SEO words for optimum rankings a bit trickier than before. When a listing requires SEO words that deviate from the standard, it makes it much more difficult to find a particular listing without filtering through tons and tons of listings. This is something that business owners need to be aware of, know how to navigate, and remedy if they want to see higher rankings within search results.

Organic Filters and Local Filters Don’t Necessarily Work Cohesively.

The highest-listed rankings are the ones with a strong and established internet presence, solid links, and the highest relevancy. Clearly Google aims to provide relevant search engine results, otherwise they would not be as successful as they are today. In an effort to provide relevant search results, Google not only uses organic filters, but local ones as well. This means that when a certain industry is large and has many competing business, some business listings that are closely similar to others may get filtered out. Businesses may also be filtered for featuring poor links that can have a large effect on a business’s ranking in search engine results.

The newest Google update is still being tested and analyzed by many and is known to fluctuate greatly. In time, patterns will be more easily identifiable and tracked. Because this update is so new, it is uncertain whether these new features of the update will stay the same, evolve again, or return back to what it was before the “Possum” update.

Growth Marketing Manager at |

Andrew has serviced SEO clients across a variety of industries including large-scale e-commerce, retail, home services, and more. As Growth Marketing Manager for UpCity, he works every day to improve our Marketplace experience for agencies and business owners alike.