Google’s Hawk Update: Who Benefits and Who Doesn’t

Although Google does not publicize its updates, the latest algorithm update is a big boost to businesses that had been crowded out by stronger competitors in near proximity. Google calls the new update Hawk, and it might as well be poetic because hawks prey on Possum(s) – Google’s previous algorithm update.

The Hawk update changes the way Google’s local filters work. Here’s a rundown of what’s changing, what’s not and who actually comes out of this one as winners.


Google’s algorithm is designed to filter listings with the same information for example business name and phone number. This is to prevent multiple listings by one business having high organic searches. This also applies to businesses in the same building.

The Possum update had a very broad filter. It filtered out businesses in near proximity with a business having high organic searches.  For example, restaurant A is listed higher in local Google listings, restaurant B that sees fewer organic searches would fail to show if it was in near proximity. This hurt businesses that were newly listed or those without savvy search optimization, leaving them to rely on paid traffic.

Stricter filter

The Google Hawk update rectified this broad filtering.  Businesses in near proximity will all show on Google local listings, though the ranking still depends on organic searches for a business. Those with stronger relevance and higher organic searches show up higher on the listings.

Who benefits from Google’s Hawk Update?

The Google hawk update is a big welcome to new businesses and those that did not have slick search engine experts to optimize their sites for higher rankings. Businesses in close proximity to a stronger competitor do not have to worry about missing out on local listings.

With this update, new businesses can become visible on the search engine faster and start attracting customers.  This also means that businesses will spend less on paid advertisement to get visible on Google.

Who doesn’t?

The filtering was made tighter, but not eliminated. This means that businesses in the same building will still show lower on local listings, with only the strongest in organic searches and relevance showing on the list. Businesses sharing the same office will show in red.

The proximity distance has been reduced but is still advantageous to businesses with the higher organic searches than others. Before the Hawk update, businesses within approximately 300 feet of a strong competitor would not show. After the hawk update, this has been reduced to about 50 feet.

The local listings filter may help keep duplicate content off Google search result and it is a good thing that Google has tightened its proximity searches to give small businesses a chance.


Leonard D'Souza

Leonard is the Assistant Manager of SEO for SocioSquares. Mainly focusing and writing on tech related subjects. Write back to him on leonardd(at)sociosquares(dot)com.