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If you are a new or small business owner, then you are likely aware of the limitations Google places on you when individuals search for your business on the internet. The previous algorithm, which was dubbed “Possum,” had problems that Google has been working on improving for some time now. In August, the “Hawk” update swooped in and replaced the Possum.  

Filter Changes

The new Hawk update that replaced Possum has improved the filter parameters. Before, there were issues where certain businesses were not displayed if they were too close to another business that was similar to it. The original thought from Google was that they did not want businesses to post multiple listings and have a monopoly on local business searches. The original algorithm was put in place to limit this so businesses would only show up once, but it was set by distance instead of other criteria that would allow everyone to show up while still avoiding duplicates. Because of this, some new businesses were blocked unintentionally by Google.

Local Small Businesses Win

New proximity filters have been placed into the Hawk algorithm so all companies will show up as long as they are further than 50 feet from each other. This is an improvement on the Possum filter of 300 feet. Local businesses and new businesses should be able to flourish in their online presence as they will no longer be blocked out by competitors who are in the same town. This is a welcome addition for those businesses since they were left out in the cold by Google. Now with minimal work to optimize their SEO protocols, these companies can get traffic from basic searches that they were not receiving before.

One small business that benefited from the Hawk update is the Georgia Dental Implant Center. As depicted in this screenshot, the business did not show up when a person searched “dentists near me” prior to the update. After the update, however, the local business does appear in this search query.

dentist search results

Imperfections in the “Hawk” Update

Even with all of the improvements for Hawk, there are still problems with the algorithm that Google has not dealt with as of yet. If you are in an office building full of similar businesses, like medical offices or a complex of financial firms, then you may deal with some problems. If you have an efficient SEO strategy, you may show up, but smaller businesses that have no SEO protocols in place will be pushed out. The new search is better than Possum, but there are still some problems that need to be worked out. Google should be able to determine the best way to solve this in some of their future updates.

“Hawk” Update Gets Us One Step Closer

Local business searches have definitely been improved with this new update, but there are some limitations and problems with Hawk overall. Google is constantly listening to input and working on improving their comprehensive search engine, but issues and deficiencies will continue for the foreseeable future. Eventually, local business searches will be improved to the point where nearly everyone shows up in Google search results. However, until the next update, we will have to be satisfied with minor improvements rather than complete fixes.

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Vincent DeCastro
Senior SEO Consultant at SEO My Business |

Vincent DeCastro is an internet marketing and SEO professional with over 20 years of experience teaching and managing Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click Advertising campaigns. He has managed over 100 small and mid-sized business internet marketing campaigns involving a mix of SEO and PPC. He is currently the CEO of SEO My Business, an Atlanta agency that specializes in not only SEO and PPC, but also social media marketing, email marketing, and public relations.