Google recently released a local search ranking algorithm and like always it was a silent roll out without any official announcement. The local search algorithm was reported to be released last month and didn’t affect non-local organic search results. Searchers and publishers worldwide have noticed changes in local search results in Google. The update has been termed as ‘Hawk’ and it has been noticed that it has undone some changes brought in the ‘Possum’ update.
How ‘Hawk’ Affected Local Search Results?
The major change noticed in ‘Hawk’ is how it changed the working of the local filter. Earlier Google would filter out listings similar to others which were already ranked. It would select the most relevant listing and then filter the others. This is similar to how the search engine filtered out duplicate content. The benefit of such filters was that it prevented multiple listings from same brands or websites to populate the search results. With Possum, Google began filtering out listings that had physical proximity. However, this was an illogical strategy because it would keep out other businesses that were on the same street or on the same district.
With ‘hawk’ update has addressed this issue to a certain level by not filtering out all the business within proximity. However, it continues to filter out many businesses within a certain distance from a ranked business.
The latest ‘hawk’ update may not have helped everyone, but it has reduced the scope of who gets filtered out of local search results any longer. It has tightened the distance for filtering out similar listings, but not removed it. Listings with same building or address continue to be filtered out. In fact, businesses in different nearby buildings can also be seen filtered out.
Even though the current local search results update has not fully addressed the proximity filter, it is going to help many businesses get a chance to rank. Removing the filter altogether is certainly going to flood Google local search results with multiple listings from same businesses. So as long as Google doesn’t come with a better algorithm, ‘hawk’ is a reasonable update. It is certainly a step higher than Possum.
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