Google makes regular updates to its algorithms. Sometimes, these updates have a negative effect on how sites are ranked, and at times, they mean better visibility for other sites. Google’s new update to its algorithm is no different. Solopreneurs especially need to learn how it will affect them. Since Google’s possum has been around for a number of weeks, its effect on online marketers is quite easy to determine. Thus far, this is most of what is known about this new update.

It Will Affect Local Searches

This new update is expected to have the biggest effect on local searches since the release of Penguin 4.0 in 2014. The Possum is going to have an enormous impact on the “3-Pack” feature that is available on Google. “3-Pack stands for the three results that appear at the top of search results when someone searches a local area plus a certain service. Google’s possum will work to filter out the person doing the search.

How It Will Effect Local Searches

Google has yet to confirm that they have rolled out Possum. However, most solopreneurs can already see the positive impact it is having on their businesses.

The Physical Location of the Business Will Not Be a Major Issue

Previously, Google has been quite strict about the physical location of a business. Even when it is just a mile or two outside the limits of the target area, it would be dropped. It would present a problem for many businesses that had the right services but were not able to find space within a city.
With Possum, the area covered by Google search result is now much wider. As long as it is close to a given location, the results should appear without a problem. It’s effect makes the business environment more competitive and gives potential customers more variety. Firms that have previously enjoyed exclusivity purely on location will have to improve the quality of their services to stay competitive.
Businesses that desire to reach out to a wider customer base in nearby towns have an excellent opportunity to do that. The business only needs some great SEO, and it could appear in a number of nearby towns. Possum provides businesses with a wide customer base; it is up to them to capitalize on it.

Google Is Paying More Attention to People on the Move

Unlike before, Google will now take into account the physical location of the person doing the search more seriously. That means the street in which you are located within a city or town will now play a bigger role in how a searcher sees the search engine results.
Thus, if you have been holding out on developing a mobile strategy, it is the time to develop one. Create a solution that can help your net searchers on the move.
A mobile strategy is especially important for people whose businesses are oriented towards people on the move. For instance, bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and entertainment halls could benefit significantly from this service. Being visible on a mobile platform is crucial, even when your services cannot be bought through such platforms.

Some of the Challenges Brought About By Possum

Solopreneurs have seen a dip in SEO rankings in some instances. The problem is not caused by anything they have done such as using black hat techniques. The problem arises when businesses are located closely together.
Since search results are so refined, some businesses are cut off as duplicates. For instance, businesses with the same postal address and phone number could suffer undeservingly. To get past this problem, Google may have to refine Possum. However, it is advisable that businesses list as many of their details as they can. Even minute details could assist the Possum algorithm to differentiate between duplication and businesses in the same office.

Keyword Order is More Significant

Previously, the order of keywords did not appear to affect how Google displayed the results. For instance, “New York Coffee Shop” and “Coffee Shop New York” were interrupted to be the same. It would lead to the same results for different people.
However, the Possum update has a more significant effect on how words are typed in. Experts have noted that it affects the “3-Pack” more when the order of words is different. As a result, business people are advised to use as many variations of the phrase as possible. Besides that, a business owner can use analytical tools to find which order of words will generate the largest amount of traffic.

There is More Differentiation Between the Organic Filter and Local Filter

Previously Google would use either an organic filter or a local filter. The result was a negative effect on SEO ranking. Since Possum, many businesses are now ranked higher when they use competitive terms. In addition, these sites are linked to pages that undergo organic filtering
A good example is an accounting company that operates many sites. Since the sites are similar, Google would filter one of them organically. If the filtered sites were linked to a well performing one, this was considered a black hat and both of the sites would drop in rankings.
However, after the Possum update, this does not affect site ranking. At times, two similar sites are even appearing in the “3-apck.” It shows that there is more differentiation in the local filter and organic filter by Google.

How Sites Can Take Advantage of Possum

  • Have More Accurate information

With the new Google algorithm, My Business listing has to be revisited and better information provided. Ensure the description is as closely related to what it offers in the real world as possible.
The storefront name needs to correlate to what is placed on Google. This field should not have additional details such as the address or store codes.
The other important step is to ensure that the address adheres to guidelines set out by Google to the letter. With location playing a major role in business visibility, rankings could tank phenomenally.
The number displayed on the website should be much more than what is listed on Google. The use of call centers is not appropriate for a Google listing.
Lastly, website category is quite significant. Take time to go through all the existing categories and determine which one is related to the business. For a more accurate category, check on what the competition has listed and use that one.

  • Watch Out for Citations Listed Elsewhere on the Web

For instance, if the business is found on online directories or pages such as Wikipedia, check for consistency. At times, Google goes through these citations to confirm the accuracy of information. If the differences are too huge, they will drop the site’s ranking. Google’s new algorithm favors sites with matching and consistent information.

  • Watch Out for Bounce Rates

Google checks the bounce rate on the website to determine if it should rank on top. If people visit the site and do not click through, it could destroy the site. One good way to improve click through is a review score. Ensure that you have a strategy that helps improve click through, thus raising the site’s ranking.

  • Do Not Forget About Phrase Variations

Although Possum is still being tweaked, one feature that will remain is the variation in phrase ranking. Google wants to make sure users of its service get what they need, not just vague similarities. Thus, it would not hurt to check out which phrase will bring the most traffic. Alternatively, a site should use as many variations of the phrase as possible without resulting to banned techniques.


As of now, it appears to be a work in progress. However, it should have stabilized by the end of the year 2016. There is still a lot of fluctuation in ranking as Google tries to make their latest creation work.
At times, fluctuations of about 64% have been noted. Nevertheless, the points mentioned in this report are still going to be valid when they get everything to work as planned. One issue of significant concern is the difficulty of testing local SEO.
With the focus being on the searcher’s location, it means that you will need a degree of sophistication. There are some tools sold online that could be used to test local SEO. These tools could come in handy now that Google has shifted focus here. Without these tools, if you are not physically located in an area, the results will vary significantly from someone located in the area.

About the Author: Donna Amos

I believe you can achieve anything you truly want to achieve. “It might sound trite, but time and time again, I’ve seen it happen with my clients. They overcome the fear of exposing themselves to the possibility of failure to creating profitable exciting businesses. My clients do great work, and sometimes it only takes someone else believing in them to give them the confidence to step out and take the chance.”