A Review of Google's Newest Update for Local Searches - Pigeon

Posted by Anant Patel

August 06, 2014

Google 15 min read

Recently, Google has bombarded the SERPs with a change to the algorithm to help in improving the relevancy and the accuracy of the local results. Though Google has not made any announcements about the same, the term Pigeon is given to this algorithm by Search Engine Land. Regardless of who coined that term, the change has been noticed. We will have to see in the coming weeks how Google is coining the new algorithm update.

The exact figure of how many companies have been affected is not known, but local businesses are either seeing an increase or decrease in website referrals. The basic concept of the algorithm is to offer local search results that are related to the ranking signals used in Web search. In order to make the overall local search accurate, it is been said that Google has also improved the location and distance parameters.

How the Pigeon Update Has Affected Local Businesses

The new algorithm update was launched on July 24. So, not much has been analyzed what has been changed until now and that the update is significant or not. It is quite evident from the changes that have been noticed that it is significant for the local businesses. However, the changes are good signals. The most to benefit are the local directories.

In the past, while searching for something local, you would get the carousel results and then the organic results. But, now you will sometimes see directories turning up in the search results below the carousel. Though it doesn’t happen with every search query, it is going to be the trend in the future as we are seeing more and more of it.

Google Pigeon Update

It should also be mentioned that the Yelp results problem has been solved with the algorithmic change. Reportedly there were some issues with the local results, as Yelp results were not showing up on the search results in Google. Yelp wasn’t even appearing for the word “yelp” in search results. In simple terms, Google was said to have put their own local results first even though they were not relevant. This is no longer the case with the new update and there are some examples available if you do some local search on Google.

For the industries that are heavily dependent on review sites and directories, they are showing up on Google Carousel, however, the Organic listings on Search Engine Results Pages are filled with directories.

What You Should Be Doing?

1) More often check the industry pertaining to local search terms to ensure that they haven’t changed. If they have changed you will have to update your strategy accordingly.
2) If the business/industry keywords are all of a sudden resulting in local search results, it is time to optimize the site for local search.
3) If your business is appearing in the SERP’s only with the help of directories and review sites, do what you could to ensure that the business shows up in the directory results for local searches. Make sure that the business details are filled out fully and try to collect positive reviews.
4) If an update has caused the local rankings to drop, you will probably need to come up with stronger organic SEO signals, namely back-links, on-page optimization to supplement your local optimization.

How Does Your Business Benefit From The Google Pigeon?

While it may not sound good initially that Google is shifting focus from individual businesses to industry-relevant directories, especially since your business is ranking well for certain keywords, the Pigeon update could be vital in helping your business and provide you with the boost against your competition.

For the local results, it is now more valuable to get a ranking as the queries are geo-targeted and you will be competing with a very small number of businesses.

The intense localization of Local results could also mean that your business may not show up on local searches as often as it used to earlier, however, the relevancy of the exposure that your website will get is going to increase as the searchers will be more qualified.

Time will tell how many queries have been affected, however, one thing is for sure that the new update is inclined to change the whole way in which local search results will appear.


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