Google recently released a local algorithm update, which experts have been calling “Possum.” Why Possum? Because many business owners think their Google My Business listings are gone, when in fact, they are not. They have just been filtered—they’re playing possum.
Possum was implemented to diversify local search results and prevent spam from ranking. Many are saying it’s the biggest update they’ve seen in the realm of SEO ranking since Google released Pigeon in 2014. So how will Google’s new furry friend affect the way your apartment community is found online?
Your community’s exact location isn’t as important as the searcher’s location.
Many apartment communities outside of the city limits were having issues ranking because they weren’t technically located within the areas being searched by users. In other words, Google was using exact boundaries to define whether or not a property should be considered relevant.
According to many SEO specialist, Possum has apparently remedied this issue. Apartment communities are showing up in individual searches even if they are not technically located in that particular city. So if your property is in the suburbs or a bordering town, this could be a positive development—now you can market your property to a larger audience.
A searcher’s location is more important than it was before. So if a prospective resident is living in Houston, Texas, for example, and they are searching for their next apartment home, it’s very likely that they will now get results for Friendswood, Texas or other surrounding sub-markets as well.
This change can go either way depending on your location. If you are right outside of the city, you have a better chance of having your apartment community appear in results; however, those inside the city will now face stiffer competition.
Slight variations of keywords will become more impactful on organic results.
Previously, you would see similar results for “apartments in Houston, Texas,” or “Houston, Texas apartments,” but with the new update, SEO specialist have been noticing a lot more fluctuation between keyword phrases that are the same.
Now, the order of these keywords have become more important. While keyword phrases such as the ones exemplified above used to deliver similar results, Possum shows that “a small change in keyword order can shift 3-Pack SERP position.” SEO specialist are suggesting that the best solution may be to use multiple variations of keywords on different pages of your apartment community’s website.
Of course, many SEO specialist believe Google’s Possum is still A/B testing various ranking signals, so it is possible that some of these recent changes could return to a previous algorithm. As marketers, all we can do is stay up-to-date, test, and continue to create and publish fresh local content to build our digital communities.