Google’s Latest Algorithm Update – Hawk

Google’s Latest Algorithm Update – Hawk


Google’s latest algorithm update is not as groundbreaking as others in the past, but it’s importance is in how it affects the local filter. The latest update has been dubbed “Hawk,” and it went live August 22, 2017.

In a nutshell, Hawk was implemented to counter the Possum update and is strictly a local update. The update tightens the distance needed to filter a similar listing and fix any bugs from the Possum update. To backtrack a little bit, here’s a brief rundown of the Possum update.

Possum Update – September 1, 2016

The 2016 update introduced a filter to the local search results which helped ensure that one business wouldn’t be able to monopolize its niche by posting multiple listings on Google.

In turn, the filter began slimming down the local results by removing businesses similar to other listings that already rank. Google basically chose the business relevant to the area and to the search query, but it filtered out the rest. Previously, the filter would just leave out businesses with the same phone number and address, but with the Possum update it began to filter businesses in the same industry that were physically located near each other.

This was problematic for not only businesses but searchers too as the results were not as comprehensive as they should have been. Essentially, similar companies are fighting for a single spot, meaning that the local results page will have fewer results. With the search results only populating a limited number of results, the distance of the search results was much farther away from the users intended location.

Hawk Update and Your Local Listing

Fast-forward to today, and your business may be seeing positive results in the local search results with the Hawk update. It decreases the size of the geographic area that controls the local filter, and this helps users not only receive relevant results in their area, but it also makes it possible for businesses in the same industry, that are close in proximity, to be able to appear in the local search results.

That said, businesses in the same building and industry may still face a challenge in the local search results – See below for images. If you do find your business struggling to rank against competitors close in proximity, you can implement SEO efforts to boost your ranking. Keeping your site relevant with reviews and content will go a long way along with making sure your listing is accurate and up-to-date.

The images below show the local search results for the query, “Freodtert doctors Milwaukee.” In the first set of images you will see listings from the Froedtert Medical College and one independent doctor. The second set of photos are the local search results for the same query but I zoomed in on the map to capture a few more results.

As you can see, in the second set of images there are multiple listings that show up for independent practicing doctors that wouldn’t normally show up in the local search results. This shows that while the Hawk update does have a positive impact on the local search results, certain companies may still be competing with one another under certain circumstances.

About the Author

Olivia Heinze is an Organic Search Analyst at Rocket Clicks. A recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with a focus on marketing and entrepreneurship, she is passionate about innovations in digital marketing. Outside of Rocket Clicks, Olivia spends most of her time with her dog, Lucy, or adventuring the city of Milwaukee with friends.

Phillip Martinez

Phil has been working for Rocket Clicks' SEO department since 2015 where he has prevailed in various copywriting, social media and technical SEO objectives. A true Renaissance man, Phil spends his off hours playing trivia, disc golf and absorbing as much music and film as time permits.