The Latest Algorithm Update from Google – The “Hawk”

On August 22, 2017, Google rolled out a new algorithm update that has since been called the “Hawk” update. It appears the Hawk algorithm update made changes to the way the local search filter works – namely, it alters last year’s Possum update. Understanding exactly what the Hawk update has changed and how it may affect your local business can help you stay ahead of your competitors.

What Is the Hawk Update?

To understand what the latest update does, one must first go back to the Possum update. The name came from the idea of playing possum. Because of the update, certain businesses disappeared in Google My Business listings. They were not actually gone, just hidden due to the new algorithm.

The Possum update filtered out business listings in the local three-pack that were physically close to other businesses. This presented major issues for some businesses, as their listings virtually disappeared. The Hawk update appears to remedy the problems that Possum posed, at least in part. It is a change to the proximity filter that means Google will no longer filter out businesses that exist near each other. Those in the local search community named the update Hawk because hawks eat possums.

With Hawk, Google will only filter out search results that pop up within the same building. The update will help most businesses that have been invisible in the local three-pack for the last year thanks to Possum. Any business that lost its listing due to proximity to a competitor has returned to the search results page. However, those in the same building are still filtered out under Hawk.

How Could Hawk Affect Your Business?

If you’ve struggled in the last year because Possum made your brand invisible on search results, the Hawk update may have made you visible again to local searchers. This is excellent news for your business. If, however, your company exists in the same building as another, Hawk may not have helped you. The same appears to be true for companies within 50 feet of one another.

Hawk will not help businesses that use the same virtual office address, such as multiple lawyers operating out of one office. These businesses will still play possum in Google search results. It does not appear that Hawk will have any negative effects on businesses – it simply serves to fix an issue that has persisted since the Possum update. If Google’s proximity filter is still hurting your business, you may have to wait until the next algorithm update for relief – or enlist the help of SEO experts to boost your search rankings in other ways.