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What is the Google Possum Update?

Last week SEO forums and chatrooms were set ablaze with all kinds of chatter about Google’s latest algorithm update, Penguin 4.0. While this update certainly has huge implications on SEO, it seemed to unfairly overshadow a less talked about, but equally important, algorithm update.

There’s been no official word from Google about the update nicknamed Possum, but that doesn’t mean it’s some sort of red-headed step-child update. In fact, this update might have a larger impact on local small businesses than Penguin 4.0.

How Google Possum Works

Possum deals strictly with local results and the three biggest takeaways from Possum are LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Google has now made proximity a much more influential ranking factor.

This means if your five and dime shop is right around the corner from little Johnny, your odds of appearing in his top three local results just got a lot better. On the other hand, if your shop is clear across town from little Johnny, you’ll now have a hard time showing up in his local results.

Score One for the Little Guy

This update is actually great news for small businesses because now corporate giants like Walmart can’t dominate all top three local results in one search. Since domain authority is less of a factor, the big boys can’t just rely on their clout to carry them.

What to do with Google Possum

The question now becomes, what to do about it and how to optimize with this update in mind. Sadly, there’s not a lot of good answers out there yet. One solution might be to start opening an office on every corner, but that hardly seems practical or cost effective.

Publishing content that specifically geo-targets certain districts or neighborhoods might give you a fighting chance to rank better for searches done across town. However, it hasn’t been long enough for any conclusive tests to be conducted. For now, we can only monitor the ranking shifts and try to adapt accordingly.

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