A recent Google algorithm update called “Possum” is having a big affect on local search engine results. Google has always awarded higher SERP listings to businesses within close proximity to a searcher’s location. Possum is now awarding ranking points to businesses, based not only on location, but on content as well. In other words, businesses can no longer dominate SERP listings based just on domain strength. Possum now places a greater impact on optimized data and relevant content. Let’s find out more about how Possum affects local search results and how you can stay ahead of the competition.

How Possum Affects Local Search Results

Old Search Results

Before Possum, a resident searching for local hair salons was still likely to find brands like Aveda dominating the results. Although proximity was still a ranking factor, these businesses also ranked higher because of brand recognition and domain strength. Now, however, Google is taking steps to make it harder for brand names to dominate local search results. Unless a brand (like Great Clips in this case) has data and content so perfectly optimized that it outranks all other listings by a wide margin, Google now delegates more listings to other local sites based on location and the usual ranking parameters.

Impact on Competition

Possum also affects search results for businesses in similar industries that are clustered together in one area. For example, someone searching for ‘Chinese restaurants’ will have plenty of results show up in Chinatown. But what if you’re not located anywhere near Chinatown? Possum now filters results based on business locations and also on your own location. In other words, your (the searcher’s) physical location is now more important than it ever has been before when filtering local results.

Getting Ahead

Possum has made data and content optimization even more crucial than ever for local businesses. These are key assets you can use to make your brand awareness more prominent in local “near-me” searches. Make sure the information on your site, including your business information, is accurate. In addition, check that your business information is also correct on directory and other websites that list your company. You should also optimize text copy and images on your website for the best local results.

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