Have you recently observed a major shift in Google’s local search results? If yes, it’s all because of Google’s latest algorithm update, which was rolled out on Aug 22, dubbed as ‘Hawk’ update. Popular Columnist Joy Hawkins recently shares the ins and outs about the ‘Hawk’ update that you need to know. It is believed that the latest ‘Hawk’ update has killed some of the changes of Possum update. He recently reported on the latest algorithm update that was rolled out on August 22 – it was a strictly-local update, which is impacting only local search results means it will have no impact on the non-local organic results.

What Has Changed?

The latest algorithm update, which is dubbed as “Hawk” update was a change to the way local filter works. Let’s have a look at some history here, what actually Google does is filter out those local business listings from the local search result page that are akin to other listings that rank already. In simple words, Google picks out the most relevant business listing to show on the local search result and filters out the rest. You can say, it’s almost similar to what Google does organically with the plagiarized content.

The filter on the search engine has existed for a long time to make sure that multiple local listings for the same business don’t dominate the search results. Last year in September, Google’s Possum algorithm update made noteworthy changes to the way filter works. Instead of just filtering out local business listings that shared the identical websites, or phone number, Possum update also started filtering out those local business listings that were physically located near each other. This started created nuisance for many businesses, because it meant that if another business is also present in the same building as you – possibilities are that your business listing could get filtered out of local search results. Yeah, that indicates that your competitors could unintentionally bump your business listing! On August 22, 2017, Google made an attempt to fix this issue by refining the proximity filter to make it more precise, but it still appears to be filtering out the business listings in the same building, however, it has stopped filtering out the businesses that are situated close or adjacent to each other.

Who This Algorithm Update Helped?

We are going to illustrate an example of how a business got benefited from this latest algorithm update rolled out by Google. After the Possum algorithm update, ‘Weber Orthodontics’ got filtered out for the term “orthodontist wheaton il” owing to the reason they had a competitor down the street, i.e. due to the fact that they had a competitor down the street — 325 feet away from where Weber Orthodontics’ located. The competitor of Weber Orthodontics’ had high organic ranking and stronger relevance to that particular keyword, so they were listed in the search results, and Weber Orthodontics was filtered out.

Take a look on the before-and-after screenshot below to see how the local search results got changed as a result of the latest update, Hawk – see how Weber Orthodontics was not in the search results a few months ago.

Another example of the latest algorithm update, Hawk was this set of four hotels in Killeen, Texas. Before Hawk update, only two of them were showing in the search results and rest two hotels were filtered out.

Now, after Hawk algorithm update, all four of them are showing in the search results.

Who Is Still Filtered?

Although, the latest algorithm update, Hawk comes up with more refined proximity filter that tightened the distance needed to filter a similar listing, but it didn’t help everyone. We are still observing business listings that share the same address or building being filtered out of local search results. Moreover, the filtering out problem still even persists for those businesses that are in a different building or approx. 60-70 feet away from a competitor.

In the below image, you can see that local search results for the keyword “personal injury attorney palmdale” are still filtering out many attorney local business listings using the same office address.

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