Profile view of a hawk

Hawk Eats Possum. Local Search Industry Rejoices!

Learn about Google's latest unconfirmed algorithm update.

Google’s latest (unconfirmed) algorithm update seems to have swooped in and gobbled up some of Possum’s imperfections.

In September 2016, the Possum update began filtering out business listings that shared the same phone number and website, and also similar listings that were physically located near each other.

Possum made sure that a single business couldn’t dominate results by having multiple listings, but it proved problematic for many businesses. It meant that if another business in your industry shared your same building or street, they could cause you to get filtered out of local search results. Not good.

On August 22, Google refined its proximity filter with an update that’s been named “Hawk.” It’s no longer filtering out as many businesses that are close by, but it still seems to be filtering out businesses in the same building.

This is strictly a local update, reports Search Engine Land, and thus far has had no impact on non-local organic results.

“The local search community settled on the name ‘Hawk’ for this algorithm update, because hawks eat possums. This is one of the few times where I don’t see any negative outcomes as a result of this update and just wish Google hadn’t taken a year to realize the proximity filter was way too broad.” – Joy Hawkins, Local SEO Expert

So what? This is good for searchers. They’ll be served more options for businesses in the area that match their search criteria, as opposed to only seeing the one business Google deemed best.

The update tightened the distance needed to filter a similar listing but did not remove it completely. Nearby competitors with higher organic visibility and stronger relevance to specific keywords may still cause your business listing to be filtered, but the opposite can also be true.

Post-“Hawk,” businesses that share the same building with similar-type businesses can take additional action to boost their listing over a competitor’s by encouraging positive Google reviews from happy customers and ensuring that their listing information is 100% accurate. If you think your listings are playing Possum, reach out to GPO. We can help bring them back to life.

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