More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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One of the people I respect in Local Search these days and I'd say the one that's done the most dissecting of the new Google Local "Possum" update, is Joy Hawkins.


She shares her findings after evaluating dozens of listings that had major ranking shifts.
(Some up, some down.)

She also explains that much of what we are seeing is not listing penalties but just Google filtering out results for various reasons, which she explains.

Additionally, Joy says that with this new update it's more important than ever to use a tool that let's you pretend you are searching from the query city.

<a href="">Everything you need to know about Google's 'Possum' algorithm update</a>

All the evidence seems to indicate this particular update only impacted ranking in the 3-pack and Local Finder (AKA the local results or Google Maps results). There is talk of another update that happened right after, which impacted organic results.

I believe the main purpose of the update was to diversify the local results and also prevent spam from ranking as well.

Based on the dozens of ranking reports I’ve analyzed, I would say this is the biggest update we have seen in Local since Pigeon in 2014. One of the main things that updated was Google’s filter that applies to the local results.

What do you think about Joy's Search Engine Land post?

Are you seeing similar results?

Have any other theories?

Also be sure to read up on our original thread, which has 85 comments from pros, discussing what they are seeing/suspect so far & what they recommend focusing on:

<a href="">A lot of movement in the 3-pack / Local Finder</a>
Great article Joy (as usual :D). Thanks for sharing your findings.
Very nice article Joy. I think you summed up what both you and others have reported in threads here on the forum quite nicely.

Thanks for the share Linda!
Thanks everyone! Hopefully I will learn more and get some success stories of getting unfiltered. It will be interesting to see if the filter runs in real time or on cycles. Based on what I have seen in the last 6-months, it's not real time. I believe the last one ran in July. It feels kind of Penguin-like.
Nice summary Joy, thanks.

I'm surprised about your "not within city limits" observation. I have an auto repair client in a similar situation but he's actually dropped for most of his kw's + city, though he did jump in searches without "city". He ranks really well organically (that hasn't changed, sometimes he's the 1st or 2nd local biz) but he's just cursed with that location outside the city. Have you seen any others that didn't spike?

Is he actually in another city? The ones I saw jump a lot were not technically "in" any city and also had a postal address in the city they rose in ranking for. One was in Miami, another in Tampa etc (all major metro cities).
His postal address is Allen, TX (a decent sized suburb of north Dallas) but Maps shows him just inside of Parker, TX, a tiny city of mostly farmland and some houses.

He told me both cities (and maybe even the county, don't remember) bounced him around for a permit (or something) when he first located there, everyone said that location belonged to someone else.

That's probably different than the cases I was referring to since both are cities. I'm assuming they would rank okay for Parker then? All my examples were businesses that didn't have another city they fit into (most were in Census-Designated Places).
Yeah, looks like you're right. No one actually searches for his city because it's so small with almost no business, so I guess he's just in a tough spot, although he used to rank in the top 7 :-(

Also, if he were located 30 ft away he'd be in unincorprated land (Mapmaker give just street name and state, no city).
Tell him to move 30ft ;)
Hi Joy,

Thank you for writing the Search Engine article on the recent Possum update. After reading your article, I am curious about what your approach would be for multi-doctor practices? Our clients are predominately in the medical field so we have a lot clients multi-doctor practices. Historically, we will create a Google listing for each doctor (if they don't already have a listing) as well as the practice. However, since the roll-out of Possum, are you advising clients not to create new listings on Google? We want to balance what's best in relation to Google Best Practices and what's best for our clients personal brands and online presence. It's important to note that some of our clients are afraid that if they don't have their own Google listing then patients will not be able to review them or they are afraid that if they leave their current practice they will have to start building their online brand "from ground zero". Any feedback is appreciated.

Thanks again for all that you do!

If the doctors all do the same thing, I don't generally suggest creating profiles for each of them. If they do different things (like one's a dentist, another a periodontist, another an orthodontist ect) then it generally makes sense for them to target their specialty and rank independently.

If you have 6 listings all targeting Dentist + city, you're most likely not going to be able to make any of them but 1 (maybe 2) rank so it's better to have 1 strong listing with tons of reviews etc.

I wrote another detailed article on this topic that you can check out here:
So, if we verify each doctor listing so we can monitor reviews,etc. and point to each of the doctors webpages, instead of the homepage, should we be sure to point to those doctor pages on every citation we build for the doctor(s)? Or just make the distinction on the Google listings?

Thanks Joy!
I would have the citations match GMB. Just remember that the more you create the more competition you are essentially creating for yourself if they are all targeting the same categories. I see more cases where I suggest not creating the listings than ones where I suggest creating them.
Really, Your information is very would be interesting to take that data and determine which directories on average had the most citation influence in the entire country.
first of all I want to thank the author for nailing the detailed explanation. One of my client got hit on possum and at first I really thought the business got penalized by penguin 4.0 since it was the main attraction and everyone was talking about it.

And when I checked the site rankings it dropped down drastically it was like seeing a horror show.


But at the moment I still don't know what to do and how to proceed. But I have done the auditing such as

Links: I can assure that they are clean since I haven't build links aggressively. Since the site went a full redesign and went live last august.

Content: same with content I can assure that they are unique and are created for both search engine and readers. I was also constantly blogging once a month but at the moment I stopped after the two major updates.

this is the current situation
main branch for the business
-organic result is gone(used to be on no.5 for KW + Location)

-local result is on page 3 no. 4(newly approved google my business after the main branch moved to a new location)

-updated the local citations and links(new domain, address, embed the NAP on the site)

other 5 branches are showing in the 3 pack results because the listings in google my business were approved long time ago.

so from here what do I need to do to get organic results?
-do i need to build links for other branches to get organic results?

Thanks to those who will respond and share ideas and my apologies if this is the wrong section to ask on the scenario that I have at the moment.


Hi Adufar,

So there was a full redesign in the past couple of months? When did it move to a new domain?
Adufar, What was the exact date you saw those ranking drops?
Hi Adufar,

So there was a full redesign in the past couple of months? When did it move to a new domain?

they had a domain way back in 2009-2015 so the business is now 11 years locally but their online presence started on 2009 up to this day 2016

on 2015 a new domain was purchased running with joomla.

  • since the business expand they added a service area page(landing pages to different cities 100+ because they would literally go extra mile to serve their customers especially loyal and old customers they have before.)
  • purchased a new domain after the old one got exploited with viagra links

Started working with this client in may 2016

  • On august 2016 site went live with new redesign and new CMS now using wordpress
  • retained the overall structure and all pages of the old site that had 100 + landing pages.)
  • updated all the previous links, citiations(domain name, NAP)

From august - up to october 8 ,2016
  • after 2 days after the site went live it gained few traffic and consistent since the site is slowly getting indexed

  • the site was performing really well with stable and not too high traffic

  • for KW + location most of them are on first page usually in top 4-10 but not on page 2 (organic results)

  • started to write engaging content one each month

  • 10 branch offices were verified in google my business and were merge to one account since they used to be separated

  • since the main branch moved to a new location and transferred to the center of the city google my business listing was verified last week(October 10, 2016)

And then penguin 4.0 and possum rolled out and then the rankings dropped.

but here's the thing that's intriguing
  • when I search for KW + Location the business will show no.1 in the 3 pack but it won't show in the organic result
  • when I searched for our brand name it shows our contact us page but not the home page
  • Is it possible that you can rank in 3 pack and also have an organic result on first page not literally on top 1-3.

Adufar, What was the exact date you saw those ranking drops?

this week October 18, 2016

that's why I'm thankful about the detailed article about possum since I was able to understand about the filtering results and didn't come to a conclusion about being penalized when it comes to penguin because all the links were legit.

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