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Google’s taken another furry critter and turned it into a terrifying animal no one wants to encounter.

This time, it’s a possum.

Some SEOs call this update the biggest one to hit the local search rankings since Pigeon back in 2014. Fortunately, it looks like one that’s not going to impact local small businesses in an unfair way.

What’s The Deal with Possum?

If you’re a legitimate business doing white-hat SEO, Possum’s all good news for you. According to an article at Search Engine Land, here’s what’s happening:

  1. Fairer Treatment in the Search Rankings

Historically, if you fall outside of the physical limits of the city in which you want to rank, Google’s made it maddeningly difficult to top its search rankings. But, that doesn’t necessarily make sense.

For example, say your business is in Mesquite, but you want to rank for Dallas.

Well, if your business falls one foot away from Dallas, you still serve Dallas. But, why shouldn’t you rank for it in search?

Seems like Google gets the absurdity of that situation. In the past, they made it difficult to rank in cities in which you are not physically present so you didn’t open up “virtual offices.”

  1. Multiple Search Listings for the Same Result Get Removed

Some SEOs have been exploiting this. What happens is, if you run a law firm with 3 partners for example, some would rank all 3 partners for the same keywords.

From a user’s perspective, that doesn’t make sense. They only need one result because it’s the same firm.

Google understands that. So now, it does a better job of identifying multiple listings, removing them, and allowing just one listing from the same company to rank.
This is a win for you because now you have previously unavailable ranking positions that you can take over.

  1. Physical Location Matters More To Searchers

Say that again, you’re in Dallas, and you’re searching for a personal injury lawyer because you just got in an accident. Well, now it’s more likely than ever before that you’ll see listings primarily from Dallas. And you’ll see fewer listings from around the suburbs in the Metroplex, and possibly none at all.

So from a searcher’s perspective, they’re going to see companies closer to their search location in the Local 3-Pack. That’s something your optimization strategy needs to account for.

If you’ve been doing white-hat SEO all along, you’ve got nothing to worry about. These are all positive changes for honest and ethical SMBs and SEO companies.

So, you should actually rejoice!

And, as always, make sure you’re working with a SEO company that always uses white-hat methods. If they’re not, they will get you burned at some point in time.

 

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