Google has updated its Search functions in the last few weeks with many people reporting that they are affected. I have seen quite a fluctuation in certain rankings for clients, with the majority of our clients with great gains with no clients going back the way – proof that we do SEO properly here at XLWEB.

Google SEO Updates
Google SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) monitoring tools showed a lot of activity in September. Source:


Google Updates – Penguin and Possum

There seems to have been two different types of update. The Penguin algorithm – which focuses on the quality of links pointing to your site –  is really a change in its frequency. Google used to update Penguin periodically (often yearly or longer) but now says it is real-time meaning factors affecting the Penguin algorithm happen live rather than having to wait for updates. This is a significant boost for business and for SEOs. For example, if you had poor links pointing to you and removed them or disavowed them, you would have to wait until Google refreshed Penguin on its servers, which took a lot of time meaning damage to your rankings and business. Now, changes in your backlink profile should happen as soon as Google discovers the changes. This is a SIGNIFICANT change in how Google works behind the scenes.

Here’s the blog on Google Webmaster Central Blog confirming this update on September 23rd >

The Possum Update

The name of this update wasn’t created by Google but rather some people in the SEO industry. The update happened on September 1st and rolled out for a few weeks. It affected localised SEO, particularly the ‘snack pack’ or Google map entries you see when doing a search. This is a SERIOUS issue for local business, with many people fluctuating in the map entries. The change affected low quality websites with poor or spammy backlinks – filtering them based on quality.

The major impacts of the Possum updates seem to be these:

  • Businesses that have more than one address and entry in Google might find it hard to have more than one entry in maps. Many expect that if you currently have two entries in the maps, then one will disappear (be filtered from the top 3) soon, if not already
  • Separate businesses AT THE SAME ADDRESS may be affected with only one showing – despite there being a clear differentiation between their sectors – this is BAD news
  • Business that are outside the city/town centre or city/town limits are ranking higher now
  • On mobile devices/location searches, businesses that are nearby show more prominently
  • Change in variations of similar searches affected – ‘Lawyer Glasgow’ NOT THE SAME as ‘Glasgow lawyer’. On the whole before the update these would return similar results, now they are different. I SEE SOME EVIDENCE OF THIS but much the same as before the update.

Ultimately, these updates by Google can only be good for people who do good SEO as the two types of update are designed to filter out rubbish – spammy backlinks and spammy map entries. That’s not to say bone fide business won’t be affected.

If you need help with your local SEO, get in touch for a free audit. Call us on 0141 374 2468 or email: