Google ‘Hawk’ Local Algorithm Update Swoops Onto the Scene

Google ‘Hawk’ Local Algorithm Update Swoops Onto the Scene

On Aug. 22, 2017, Google released a new local algorithm update that’s been dubbed the ‘Hawk’ update. This update has been made specifically on the organic local level and appears to be targeting map listings overall. The ‘Hawk’ update appears to be in response to some of the changes made during the ‘Possum’ update from about a year prior that negatively affected some businesses on the maps.

What Part Of The ‘Possum’ Update Needed To Be Fixed?

Google has actively filtered out local results for businesses with several locations in an area for a very long time. It would pick the most relevant one for the searcher, but wanted to provide variety as opposed to letting one business monopolize the organic search listings. The ‘Possum’ update changed the filter, and instead of just filtering out businesses with the same phone number or website as it had before, it also started filtering similar businesses that were physically located near each other. This not only included businesses within the same building but also businesses within several blocks of each other in a city or a town. This would mean, for example, that doctors in a large shared medical complex that practice different types of medicine could be fighting for a single spot on the maps for certain keywords just due to their proximity to one another. The ‘Hawk’ update was created to fix that flaw.

What Is The Result Of The ‘Hawk’ Update?

While businesses in the same building or within 50ft of each other are unfortunately still being affected by the possum update, some businesses are beginning to show up on the maps again. This is great news for businesses who chose their location due to proximity to similar businesses in their area. For example, it is common for lawyers to situate their offices near local courthouses. Under the ‘Possum’ update, a personal injury lawyer and a divorce lawyer could be competing for the same spot for some Google search terms even though they aren’t necessarily competing for the same clients. However, with the ‘Hawk’ update, they should both be able to rank locally on the maps again.

How This Could Be Affecting You

If your business is in the same building as similar other businesses, you may still be duking it out for that one listing for certain search terms, however, you should not have seen any further negative effects from the ‘Hawk’ update. If you are a business near other similar businesses, you may see the great benefit of reentering the maps that you had been knocked off from the ‘Possum” update. If you are the one local business who was on the maps while all your competitors were knocked off, you won’t see any negative changes to your ranking, but chances are you may be seeing a little bit more competition again in your area.

The name ‘Hawk’ stuck for this update because hawks eat possums. Hopefully, your business is seeing some positive results from this update.


Amy Leach is Commexis’ SEO project manager. She has a BFA from Rowan University with minors in music and art history.

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