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Google Penguin 4.0 – Possum Google Update and Local Search

After many previous Google updates, Panda, Pigeon, Hummingbird, Penguin, we now have Penguin 4.0 and with regards to local, the Possum. Really, the Possum?  Let’s learn more about the Possum.

Things began happening at the beginning of September 2016 and seemed to be targeting the local search results, specifically affecting listings in the local 3 pack. For a detailed explanation of what was and is happening with regards to the local search results as a result of this latest update, please check out this article from Search Engine Land about the Google Possum

The Google Possum Update

A quick summary of the Possum update with regards to local:

  • A ranking boost to businesses located outside of the city limits. Local search use to favor businesses located close to the city centroid.
  • Filtering of local businesses sharing the same address. Think 3 dentists sharing the same office. 2 filtered, while one dentist listing showing in the results.
  • The physical location of the web searcher (IP address) has become more important. Getting different search results when searching from different locations. Example: If you live in Miami and you are checking on local search results on a business in Tampa, you will get a different search result than someone searching from Tampa.
  • Seeing more 3 pack search result variations when searching for long tail keyword variations. Example: Before this update, we would see similar search results for “chicago plumber” “plumber chicago IL” “plumber chicago”.
  • Seeing more of a disconnect between Organic and Local search results. Which has been ongoing, but seems to be getting more pronounced.

google penguin update

Google Penguin is Here to Stay

Google announced on September 23 that Penguin is now part of the core algorithm. See the post here. Saying that they will continue to roll out the Penguin update. Also adding that certain webpages of your site can be affected instead of a site wide penalty. Which is good news for most as it will allow you to more easily isolate any problems.

Possum Google Update is Local

So what information can we take from all of this?  First of all, the Possum update is just another bump in the road for the local search results, which is probably setting the stage to help Google make more money down the pike. As long as you are managing your local business listing correctly, building citations, links, etc, you should be able to weather these bumps.

Your Website Housecleaning

With the the Penguin Google update, this is simply a continuation of the original Penguin which is targeting spam links and over optimized anchor text. It would be a good idea to take a look at your link profile and anchor text through Majestic Site Explorer and Ahrefs Site Explorer to get a baseline and find out how you need to proceed.