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Impacts of the Recent Google Possum Update

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Google, the heavyweight champion of web search, relies on a dazzling, ever-changing array of complex formulas to put exactly what people are looking for at the top of their search results pages. These algorithms are the foundation of Google’s success and are hidden from the public. But to the trained eye, small changes make a big impact on search results.

Back in September, reports of Google algorithm updates started to uncover two new changes affecting local map-pack search results and core web search results. The change affecting local search results was coined Possum.

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The Possum Update

Possum was a Google algorithm update that affected local businesses in a few ways.

  1. Re-defined local areas and boundaries used in defining which business would appear in the local map-pack for specific city search queries.
  2. Re-defined how many local map-pack results appear for a single address mainly affecting multiple practitioner businesses such as doctor’s offices and attorneys who want to have a local presence for their individual practices.
  3. Changed their results when users searched within a local area compared to users searching outside the local area to be widely different.
  4. Changed their search results for slight variations of keyword queries to be completely different results.

One study shows over 60% change in the local search results. Here at G5, we are seeing similar results when searching for our clients’ industry keywords and analyzing Google Analytics and Google Search Console data.

The most striking impact we’re seeing is that for almost half of our clients currently on our Cloud platform, Google organic search traffic rose in October compared to September. This trend is completely outside the normal demand curve for our clients’ industries.

G5’s Clients’ Impact of Recent Updates

So far the news is very good. When analyzing search engine results for some of the largest storage and apartment clients on the G5 Marketing Cloud, we are seeing anywhere between 23% and 61% more search visibility in last month compared to August, and 300 to 600 new keyword queries per business.

Of those clients live on the G5 Marketing Cloud that did not migrate in the months of September or October, 46% received more organic search traffic in October compared to September, a trend which is outside the norm for our industries at this time of year.

The new keyword query data is a mix of new local (targeted) terms, local (related) terms and head terms. For example, we are seeing more impressions on search queries for the targeted local city plus state terms we want to rank in, but also more impressions on search queries for nearby areas and cities that are not being targeted specifically. Also, some of our largest clients are seeing more impressions on search queries for broader head terms such as boat storage or waterfront apartments.

Therefore we attribute this increase in organic search traffic to the Google’s Possum update and the other major Core update that took effect in the month of September.

Great News for Local Businesses

Overall, we are pleased to see these types of changes starting to take shape in Google’s algorithm and subsequent impact to search results. For so many of our clients’ businesses it makes sense to have a digital presence for broad terms and for nearby cities or towns.

G5 has spent time developing better SEO strategies over the years in an attempt to achieve this same outcome and our clients are able to capitalize on changes like this when Google makes updates to their algorithm filters.

As G5 continues to analyze search results you can be sure we’ll be watching, learning, adjusting, and helping our clients continue to harness the power of digital marketing.

Learn more about G5’s Digital Marketing.

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