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The Effect of Google’s Possum Update on Mobile

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Local SEO

Updated Date: May 23, 2022

On September 1st, something very important in the Local SEO industry occurred. Google changed the rules for how results will be displayed in Search and Map results for Businesses by releasing their new update, Possum, as it’s been called by the Local SEO community.

Analysis is still early regarding what the long term effects will be, but some business have already benefitted from the change.

Through our analysis, this is what we know so far:

Both Google Search Results and Map Results are affected by the new update, more specifically as it relates to mobile searches.

The Three-Pack results showed a big change with regard to mobile searches and in regard to the keywords and categories they were searched with. Subtle variations on keyword or category order, now yield different results.

Other aspects of the Local Search algorithm have been affected, but in this article we will be focusing on the Mobile Effect.

The Mobile Effect

Computing technology and mobile networking have changed the world of local marketing forever.

Mobility in computing equates to being geographically present anywhere, while maintaining computing connectivity everywhere. 68% of US adults in 2015 had smartphones, according to the PEW Research Center. This, combined with the growth of other mobile devices, is enabling the vast majority of the US population to be mobile, while still being connected to technology.

Where do business want to be when be when someone is “near me?” They want to be under the finger of the person pressing that “Micro-Moment” button.


middle-aged man using a smart mobile phone

With the Possum update, mobile search results are now factored much differently and are now tailored more in tune with the actual physical location of the search origin. This is great news for small businesses who may be in close proximity to the physical search origin and who may have been pushed out in the past by larger chains with multiple locations.

The results for a mobile user on both Search and Maps will be much more varied, giving the consumer the benefit of a better selection as well as allowing lesser known merchants to fill those needs in that all important Micro Moment.

At V Digital Services, we evaluated the Google Insight Data for several locations that are located within the densely populated Phoenix and Scottsdale Downtown areas. The data shows that various listings enjoyed increases in Listings on Search and Listings on Maps which were formerly pushed out by larger chains with multiple listings or by larger overwhelmingly popular listings.

Within the test area, of the listings that were analyzed, we showed a marked increase post-Possum update, as follows.

  1. For the month of September as compared to the month of August, Listings on Maps increased an average of 27.35% while Listings on Search increased an average of 40.64%!
  2. For the month of October as compared to August, we saw that the increase was sustained with Listings on Maps still 30.62% higher than August and listings on Search at a 29.83% increase over that same period.

How mobile search has affected local search

How to Take Advantage of the Possum Update

This change has leveled the playing field for everyone. Small business owners now have a greater opportunity to appeal to mobile search users during their immediate search for what they’re trying to find.

All of these listings have been fully optimized and many structured citations have been built for them. If you are in a densely populated area, then this change will affect your business traffic, as long as you are fully optimized.

Optimize Google Business Profile

The optimization of the Google Business Profile listing is absolutely essential. Even if you are within the immediate local search area of a mobile user, Google will still feature only quality content that is consistent and has relevance. Filling out the required aspects of the Google Business Profile listing and maintaining the freshness of the content will yield the best results.

Man using laptop to work on local seo campaign

Local Citation Strategy

It is also crucial to make sure that your citations are absolutely consistent. Google establishes a trust factor that will have an important effect on your ranking based on the consistency of your directory listings.

This is an important consideration since the market now involves the business in your immediate area. As a small business owner, you are now in direct competition with your neighbors. It’s important to make sure everything matches as a one for one for where your citation information appears.

V Digital Services

With this new update, a well optimized Google Business Profile Listing and consistent citations will allow the small business to now compete in real time with other more well known businesses and chains in their immediate area. Bear in mind that the study above is a small sampling of data and Google is always adjusting and fine tuning their efforts.

The expert Local SEO team at V Digital Services will continue to monitor and adjust our practices according to these changes. Let us get you on the map and get you noticed in Local Search. Contact us today for more information.