The “Possum” Algorithm Update – Implemented September 2016
The Google Possum Algorithm Update affected millions of business website owners by changing what factors caused a local business to show up in the “maps” section of a search. Known as the “Google 3 Pack”, or “Google Local Pack”, this is very valuable real estate that gets a lot of clicks for the three businesses that appear because it is below the sponsored ads and above the organic listings. This is where people would discover businesses and other relevant data like reviews, location, phone number, directions and website link.
This was a very quiet update that had huge ramifications. Businesses that used to show up in the maps section suddenly did not, and Google started featuring only the top three local businesses in the maps box. This was further exacerbated by filtering, where Google reshuffled the results. Unknowingly, some now lost their position in the box, and they lost significant calls and clicks (and sales).
Prior to the update, citation-building exercises could be used to to show up easily enough, and people could game the system. Google knew this was happening as it was giving artificial search results so therefore the change was implemented. In the Post-Possum world, consistent NAP (name, address, phone), claiming your Google My Business listing, and generating more social reviews now have significantly more weight in a kind of blended algorithm and the Google Local Pack can even mirror the organic listings below it.
Site owners should test by “going incognito” or using the private browser option and search for their niche, main keyword, and their business name to see what position they appear in organic and in the Local Pack. Strategies can be then be implemented with the proper local SEO techniques to elevate a poor ranking position. The benefits and ROI of showing up in the Maps section are very important to online success. As a Google Local Pack SEO pro, we can check your current ranking and implement a strategy to be one of the businesses featured in the maps box.