Here's How Google's SEO Hawk Update Helps You and Your Clients

BY Kathy Crosett
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It’s not nice to fool search engine giant, Google. In fact, the tech company will try to get even. That’s what happened when SEO whizzes tweaked their strategies to get better placement on Google’s search results pages.

Did you know that experts call the three top listings in a Google search results page the “map pack?” Chances are, your clients don’t know this either. When consumers ask Google for information like “restaurants” near me, they get a list. The top three items are shown in an outlined display box, along with their physical locations on a map. Placement in the map box almost ensures that consumers will check out one of these three businesses. In a great write-​up for Chief Marketer, Chad Crowe describes how some folks tried to game the system to ensure that their single business showed up as three separate listings on the map pack. Often, they used the same address and slightly different business names to obtain the placement.

Google’s first fix for this problem was Possum. The code prevented businesses in the same category and with addresses within 300 feet of each other from getting listed.  But, there was a problem. In densely populated areas, several types of health care professionals often operate within a few feet of each other — especially if they’re in a medical mall. After the Possum update, these businesses stopped appearing in Google listings, and had no chance of making it into the map pack. Complaints started coming in to Google.

The next Google fix, Hawk, makes amends. A post in UpCity​.com notes that if businesses are at least 50 feet apart from each other, their listings will appear in Google search results.

Google doesn’t make the details of its algorithms public. We are left to guess at which details are important for SEO purposes. Industry experts note that listing order comes down to much more than the business name and address. They frequently write about efficient SEO strategies. These strategies include using the right keywords, placing keywords in titles, optimizing pages for mobile, and plugging in visual elements.

Your clients don’t have time to attend to the details of search engine optimization techniques. Convince them that you’re the expert by sharing the details of Google’s Possum and Hawk fixes. Then sell them on your SEO services.