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The ‘Hawk’ Algorithm Update

A few online sources are saying that there was a somewhat sneaky algorithm update (dubbed the Hawk) which occurred on the 22nd of August 2017. We say somewhat sneaky because SEO forums and Search Engine Land only just picked up on it and its likely effects a couple of weeks later. It seems that this one ‘swooped in’ and caught many SEOs off guard! So what is it targeting and what might it mean for your business?

What is it?

In November 2016, the Possum Update hit local listings and the way that they were filtered. What does that mean exactly? Some hawk-eyed enthusiasts noticed changes to the businesses that appeared in Google Places as early as July last year. The main change being that when you searched for something local (say a pizza shop) the options that appeared on the Map were in a much smaller radius and pizza shops that were further away from where you performed the search were filtered out. See the example from Search Engine Land below.

Before, Google filtered out businesses that were very similar (they had the same address, phone number or website for example) and the Possum update also meant that they started filtering out businesses that were in very close proximity to each other. This had a negative effect on those that had a competitor in their building or on the same street.

This Hawk update seems to have ‘reversed’ some of the filtering that occurred from the Possum update – which is why it’s been updated the Hawk (Hawks eat Possums!).

What effect could this have on my business listings?

We have been running reports for our clients to see if there has been any increases or decreases to those appearing in Maps. S far we haven’t found any major fluctuations. Search Engine Land is stating that this may benefit some businesses that have a competitor in close proximity, but not those that share a building.

Have you noticed changes to your Maps listing or performed local searches with wildly different results? Let us know!