Google has taken advantage of the distraction caused by the mobile-first index, by quietly releasing a new update to the core algorithm. Taking place on the 22nd of August, it took marketers several weeks to notice that something had changed.
The industry is used to Google releasing updates with no warning or announcement, but this one certainly caught everyone by surprise. Focusing on local search, Hawk appears to be a follow up to Possum.
What was the Possum update?
Released in November 2016, Possum changed the way in which local listings were filtered. This resulted in search radius’ being much smaller, with some businesses filtered out if they were so many miles away from where the initial search was being performed.
Google already had restrictive filters in place for local search, resulting in businesses holding the same address, phone number or website, for instance, being excluded or moved down in search results. However, Possum took it one step further by filtering out companies that were close to each other, in terms of location.
Although it is still early days, it seems as though Hawk has lifted the weight of Possum by increasing the search radius and businesses that were in close proximity are no longer being filtered. This certainly opens up the search results, although it is thought that businesses that share a building still may not escape the filtering system.
How can your SEO benefit from the Hawk update?
There are no specific steps to follow in order to benefit from Hawk, or make your business appear within the listings but there are a few points to follow that could certainly help – and are always good SEO practice, regardless of the latest algorithm update!
- Make sure you have genuine user reviews on your business as these carry real weight with Google
- Ensure your Google business listing is up to date and accurate
- And finally, ensure your site is fit for purpose in technical SEO terms so it will be able to perform to the best of its ability
At the moment, information on the update is relatively limited but as more marketers start to determine the impact, there should be more guidance on how this could impact sites and local performance moving forward.