Google’s “Hawk” Catches “Possum”

September 18th, 2017

Google’s “Hawk” update recently swooped in on an unexpecting digital “Possum”. The change in Google’s algorithm – which took place August 22nd – specifically affected local searches.

It’ll take some time before we understand the full impact but those of us in the digital world have noticed some changes in the local rankings of small businesses.

@Google’s #Hawk update swooped in. Don’t be caught playing #Possum. #SEO Click To Tweet

If you’re not keeping up with the latest algorithm changes, your Local SEO strategies could be your Google downfall. Don’t let Hawk’s talons rip your efforts to shreds.

Playing Possum

To briefly recap, the Possum update was launched last September 2016. Google’s benevolent attempt to deliver improved search results had its fair share of pros and cons.

While Possum was designed to stop a company with multiple listings from monopolizing Page 1 results, it ended up filtering out listings within close physical proximity of one another. If businesses in the same industry shared the same building – or even just held offices relatively close to one another – one would be filtered out of local search results.

In 2016, Google found that 76% of individuals using mobile search to locate something visited a related business within a day.

Suffice to say, if you weren’t showing up on Google local search, your competition was reaping the benefits.

76% of location searches results in a visit to the business w/in a day #LocalSeo #Results Click To Tweet

Flying High With Hawk

Luckily, Google recognized the issues associated with the Possum algorithm, and have quietly lent a helping hand by releasing Hawk.

Possum’s issue of filtering out businesses has now been toned down, though not completely removed. Still, it’s a better update that can potentially benefit your small business in local organic search.

The geographic area that affects the filter has been decreased, meaning there’s less of a likelihood that you are inadvertently knocked off Google’s local search by competitors. Neighboring competitors should see the most improvement but the good folks at Search Engine Land still noticed some discrepancies for similar businesses sharing an office space or housed in the same large building (i.e. medical practices).

Of course, an improvement is an improvement, and local businesses should hopefully see some benefit as long as they are continuing to utilizing quality SEO and digital marketing techniques.

Some Local SEO Tips From Your Cobalt Digital Team

The Hawk algorithm is undeniably a step in the right direction but if you – or the team you’ve hired – still don’t have a full digital marketing plan in place, it does your business no good.

One of the most basic tips that we have discussed before that can have a huge effect on your business is your online listings. Improving your local search standings consists of a number steps and strategies that you can take but just making sure your Google local listing is correct is the very first step you need to take.

73% lose trust in #local #business when listings are wrong. #buildtrust Click To Tweet

A few additional steps you should take forward to improve your local ranking on Google include:

  1. Google verify your listing! If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times. Google is the king of the mountain when it comes to online searches. Being verified is testimony to the accuracy of your online listing meaning Google will trust you and place you on local searches. Not sure how to verify with Google. Cobalt Digital Marketing has got you covered. Just give us a call.
  2. Mobile-friendly website is a must. ⅓ of people use their smartphone as their primary device to access the Internet. A mobile-friendly site will help to increase your visibility to thousands of local potential customers. Google recognizes the importance of providing a good website user experience.
  3. Don’t forget to verify with other listing sites. There’s plenty of other sites beyond Google that get traffic which you should tap into. Yelp,, MapQuest, Angie’s List, and FourSquare are just a few where you should verify your business’s listing information.
  4. Love your customers and ask them to show some love back. Quality service just can’t be beat and positive reviews will help you to shine in Google local searches. Encourage customers to review your site on Google as well as the previously mentioned platforms listed above in tip three.
  5. Make sure your local SEO strategy is sharp. The reality is that ranking in a high position on Google’s local search isn’t just completed through any one tactic. It takes a combination of tactics used strategically. Take flight with the right technical skills, digital marketing plan, PPC/digital ad strategy and social media. SEO is a key aspect and should be properly handled with plenty of quality geo-specific keywords, meta descriptions, alt-images, and a variety of other techniques.

If you’re worried about Hawk, don’t be. We have our very own Hawk on our team, who can more than handle any changes to Google’s algorithm and then some.

Want a team who stays up-to-date on Google algorithm changes? We’re Google certified, creative, digitally savvy, and we will hustle for you.

Contact us today at 956-303-6555 to climb up Google’s local rankings.