Google Algorithm Update: Hawk Correcting Course

Just as the sun rises and sets every day, Google’s local search algorithm ascends or descends local business listings each day. On most days, Google’s local listings remain fairly stable with listings experiencing only minor ranking fluctuations. There are times throughout each year, however, where dramatic fluctuations can be seen across all types of businesses regardless of category or vertical.

When enough data is available, and enough listings have been impacted, the local search community declares it an “algorithm update day” with a fitting name. August 22, 2017, has been identified as the day the Hawk algorithm update took effect.

For Every Action, A Reaction

The Hawk update has been positioned as a right-sizing of the dramatic shifts experienced with Google’s Possum update from September 2016. Possum was focused on adding diversity to the search results by way of filtering select locations out of the search result, while adding others in. With Possum, Google filtered locations based on price, product and location, and focused on adding a wider variety of results based on these parameters. Check out the classic Mister Neels’ Neighborhood to learn more details about the Possum algorithm update.

Our own empirical study also highlighted that listings missing hours of operations were very likely to get filtered. Darren Shaw’s 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors took this into account as he revealed the ranking factors at MozCon 2017. We think it really should say “Because Location3 said so,” but we will take it.

Stay Vigilant

Post-Possum, Google appears to have realized they filtered businesses too aggressively and pulled in lower quality results for searchers, which is why they have started to course correct with Hawk. Hawk has shifted some results back to the pre-Possum ranking, allowing some business to breathe easy again.

The one major caveat to both of these algorithm updates (and really all algorithm updates) is that not all brands and locations are affected – so while some locations have seen a major swing back into ranking, some locations haven’t experienced any fluctuation between both algorithm updates. At the end of the day, it comes down to knowing your clients and actively monitoring their locations during these times of flux.

Now that we’ve outlined this new Hawk algorithm update, we’ll leave you all with a classic Beatles lyric, providing you with both hope and caution: Here comes the sun (doo doo doo doo)

Full Here Comes the Sun song here for your listening pleasure.

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