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September 20, 2017

Hawk: The Latest Google Local Algorithm Update

There was rarely a more fitting name for a Google algorithm update. Hawk literally swooped in and took everyone’s local SEO by surprise.

According to Search Engine Land, the update happened on Aug. 22. It is geared toward local searches, so it doesn’t have any impact on websites that do not try to reach local audiences. However, it may hint to changes that will affect every business and that are bound to happen in the near future.

So, what’s Hawk really about?

In a nutshell, Hawk is designed to help Google filter local organic results. Before this update, businesses in the same industry and close to each other geographically would end up filtered out as Google sometimes considered them duplicates. For instance, touristic areas that are filled with restaurants, pubs and hotels were the most affected by this.

How can something like this happen?

Well, as the saying goes, it was a road paved with good intentions. Google added this filter to ensure that one business wouldn’t end up dominating its niche just by adding multiple listings and kicking out its competitors.

In theory, it sounds perfect.

In practice, though, what happened was that similar businesses ended up kicking each other off the results page without even intending to.

To counter this, Google introduced Hawk, the update that essentially narrows down the size of an area that the filter applies to. This way, businesses can no longer use the same address several times just to get ahead in listings.

However, there are still a lot of businesses that actually have the same address as their competitors – a shopping mall, for instance, or attorneys sharing the same office building.

While some businesses may struggle due to this update, the majority of them will benefit from it, mainly because they won’t have to worry about their neighboring competitors stealing their thunder.

As always, this is another update from which the end users benefit the most. Getting relevant results in your area just got easier.

What can you do about it?

First off, don’t panic. I’ve said it before: it’s normal for your search rankings to drop every once in a while, especially when an algorithm update is introduced.

Next up, find out if you were really affected about this update and work to remedy it.

1. Go incognito

The search results Google offers are personalized for every user. They depend on your location, history, interests and many other factors. If you want to see how you really rank, search for your usual keywords in incognito/private mode.

Otherwise, you may get a ‘false positive.’ In other words, Google will show your business as listed because it knows you’ve searched for it before and you’re “fond of it,” but it won’t be shown to other users.

2. Make sure your listing is up-to-date

You’d be surprised at how many people go for complicated fixes and forget about the basics. Before anything else, make sure that all the information in your listing (Google My Business) is up-to-date. Phone number, e-mail address, street address and ZIP code – all of these have to be perfectly accurate.

This is one area where typos matter immensely. Whatever small error you see in your listing, make solving it your priority.

3. Get more reviews

Offering your customers an incentive to review your business is a great way to get your listing to the top of results. It can be as simple as a discount or a free muffin.

However, make sure you are not too pushy and you are not encouraging fake reviews. Just ask for people’s honest opinion. If you push too hard, you will get reviews, but not the kind you want.

4. Upgrade your content game

There is no better way to boost your rankings than to constantly add fresh, relevant content. Local-oriented landing pages are a good start, but I always recommend my clients invest in regular blogging; local tagging and keywords included, of course.

For one of our clients, my team of SEO copywriters and I managed to help them rank for 50-plus local keywords in less than six months. We setup a content plan, did extensive keyword and competition research and the results have been better than expected.

Granted, it was a rather narrow niche. But we are still seeing amazing growth from our efforts and expect to have them rank for more than 150 keywords within a year.


Whenever a new Google update appears, the industry’s first reaction is to panic. And that’s perfectly understandable. In some cases, it means that all your hard work has just been wiped clean and you have to start from scratch.

Still, my favorite antidote is this: write and optimize for humans, not search engines and you won’t have to worry. Of course, algorithms may surprise us. But if there has been one constant in all the recent updates it’s been the fact that Google tries to “humanize” its bots. It tries to make them thinks and “act” as humans would in an effort to make the experience more enjoyable and efficient for end users.

So, the next time you plan to write a piece of content or upgrade your website, worry about Google last. First, ask yourself: “What would my readers be interested in learning about from my blog?” and “How would they like my website to look and feel?” After you have clear answers to these questions, you can start your keyword research and get technical with SEO for your website.


Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the CEO of Idunn, a digital marketing agency that helps clients all over the world with copywriting, social media marketing and marketing strategy. Follow her blog here:

26 Responses to “Hawk: The Latest Google Local Algorithm Update

    Incognito results are neutral. It always works. Thanks for great information

    Thanks a lot for sharing such a great information.

    Excellent article. We have actually seen a bit of an improvement in ranking for our pages that focus on specific local areas since the update.

    Wow. Good info. I actually have experienced this one in going incognito. Is very annoying if you see thinking you’re ranking and others can not even see your URL

    avatar says:

    Great article, thanx a lot!

    avatar Exam Center says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. Please keep up the good job. I have a better understanding of the new update now. Many thanks to you.

    Good Article, Thank you.
    I see a drop in my ranking and has been worried since I noticed it…Now I understand better.

    avatar Rob Fermin says:

    I worried because the business that I worked for have the same business listing on the same building.

    This is really very informative. Google’s update is very important for all the digital marketers who work to promote the organization business. Thanks for sharing!

    this update is not working

    avatar Jenny says:

    Yes. Incognito mode shows the exact position of our keywords and review is also one of the best parts for high rank.
    Great Article. Thanks for sharing useful information. 🙂

    avatar PCNTECH says:

    Its really a good article thanks for the great post.

    avatar Marya says:

    I regularly read all your articles, which makes me up to date with latest updates regarding Google’s algorithms.

    avatar Laura says:

    Thanks for this insightful and informative article. Now we need to be more accurate during content writing.

    avatar dry fruits online best price says:

    thank you so much for sharing this valuable information.

    avatar Mark says:

    Adriana, thanks for sharing! It’s true we need to updated with latest updates!

    Thank you for your sharing. Thanks to this article I can learn more things. Expand your knowledge and abilities. Actually the article is very practical. Thank you!

    avatar Obat says:

    Hi Adriana, this is about upgrade your content game as you mentioned. So which one is your preferred to do. Updating an old content, or delete the old then create a new one?

    Very good information.. thanks for sharing

    avatar Mill Ex says:

    Great blog over an update. Its nice read here Hawk update. You have just nailed it.

    Excellent article on the Hawk Update. We use incognito mode as well to make sure we aren’t getting false positives when searching for our own keywords/pages. Great advice, thank you.

    Excellent write-up. We have actually seen a little an enhancement in rating for our pages that focus on certain areas given that the update.

    avatar Kenvin says:

    Thank you for your sharing. Thanks to this article I can learn more things. Expand your knowledge and abilities. Actually the article is very practical. Thank you!

    Hey Adriana

    This is really informative article. i would love to subscribe this blog cause most of the article fulfilled my needs.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂


    Divya Sehgal

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