Google’s latest algorithm update (named “Possum” by the local search community because of its results) launched nearly a month ago, and many businesses noticed a change in their rankings – some good and some bad. Here are some things the update affected:

City Limits

Possum mainly affected local search and the filters Google uses to rank businesses. Before the update, many businesses had a hard time ranking well in search results if they were located right outside of physical city limits; even if their address included the city name, it was difficult for people to find them if they were outside of the borders Google Maps set. Once Possum hit, many businesses with this problem were moved higher up in the search engine rankings.

Redundant Listings

In addition, the update seemed to target redundant local business listings and filter them out so that most appropriate ones show up. For example: if a medical practice had a local listing for its main office location and three more listings for the doctors in the practice, Google would filter out the doctors’ listings and leave only the location, making it more convenient for those who search for it. (The doctors’ listings, however, may come up in a search for a different set of keywords.)

Multiple Business Licenses

In an article by Search Engine Land, Joy Hawkins shared a discovery she found about a dentist with two different practices:

“There is a dentist I work with who owns two different practices. They are both on the same road but have completely different addresses and are not in the same building.  They have different NAPs, different doctors, the sites aren’t hosted together, and they are not claimed in the same Google account. The only connection is that he owns both, and technically, the parent company that owns both is what would be listed on their business license.

…it seems now that Google really knows a lot more about who owns multiple companies in the same industry than I suspected.

In the case of this dentist, his two practices used to both rank in the 3-pack for various keywords. Currently, I cannot get them to trigger together. Based on what I type in, I get either one or the other.”

Keyword Variations

Before Possum, when you searched for a business and switched around the keyword phrases, you would tend to get similar results. For example: a search for “Philadelphia marketing company” and “marketing company Philadelphia” would yield similar businesses in the top rankings. Now, however, it seems as though these searches bring up altered listings.

So tell us – how has “Possum” affected your business?