Thursday, 26 October 2017 05:00

Local Search Improves With Hawk Update

As marketers, we are constantly evaluating and improving our tactics to ensure the best results for our clients. In a world that has very rapidly become digital-centric, this is a daily (and sometimes hourly) task, especially for those working towards local search optimization. One of the biggest influencers in a digital marketing strategy is Google.

Optimizing SEO For Local Search

A leader in just about everything they do, success in reaching consumers is at the will of the marketer who understands the regular algorithm updates and responds appropriately. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. As a platform that rolls out multiple new updates every day, Google is not making announcements to the public or marketing professionals that say, “Hey! This is new, adjust accordingly.” If you are not keeping up with the changes, your digital assets can very quickly be left behind.

Google has always filtered their search engine results pages (SERPs). Ultimately, this is for the benefit of both businesses and consumers. A SERP that is filled with the sub-pages of a single business website offers minimal benefit to everyone but that business. Google's goal is to produce a filtered list with a variety of highly related content for each query in the search box. While impressive and improving, the capabilities of creating this list is far from perfect.

Local Search Is Its Own Beast

Local search results seem to be one of the more difficult aspects of ranking to tackle. With city limit requirements and a smaller playing field, the competition grows exponentially. The Possum update, which rolled out a little over a year ago, had a major impact on local search results. It is believed that the goal of this update was to diversify local search results to include more local businesses, but, in fact, the results were quite the opposite.

This update worked very similarly to an organic filter, showing the most relevant options to a search query and filtering out those that were too similar. What this meant, though, was that business that shared an address, domain, phone number, parent company, or was even located physically near one another were no longer showing up in search queries they previously ranked highly for. A doctor’s office that had a page for each of their three practicing doctors and the practice itself would not show four unique search results.

What's New In Local Search?

In late August, a new update took effect. The Hawk update, cleverly named because hawks eat possums, made changes to the proximity filter that was causing physically close businesses in the same industry to be filtered out of search results. It is not a perfect fix, as competitors that share a street address are still finding themselves filtered out of SERPs, but the distance filter has certainly been tightened.

For the businesses that are still affected as a result of the possum update, all hope is not lost. Neither is their ranking. When you zoom into a Google map results page, the filters are removed and all of the listings are shown. In order to get into those top rankings, though, the businesses need to evaluate their SEO strategies to ensure that they are providing the most relevant content to specific queries.


For all your search engine optimization needs, contact the experts at FiG Advertising + Marketing.