How the Google Pigeon update will affect your local business

Pigeon Local SEO

What is this Pigeon Update?

Google has a trend of calling their algorithm updates after animals. In the past, we have seen Panda and Penguin. Their latest Pigeon was officially rolled out on the 24th July for US English results. We have already seen a refresh in the algorithm and we would expect to see a similar effect to AU English results when the time comes.

Pigeon is different to previous updates because it’s not a penalty based update to combat spam. Rather, the aim of it is to provide more relevant and accurate results to local search queries.  It was named Pigeon (Google had not named it), because these birds fly back home, which relates to local search results.

Many small businesses rely on their Google local listings in order to compete with their bigger competitors. Make sure you are a winner, not a loser, and follow my advice to ensure that your rankings do not drop.

Is it a major update?

It is hard to say at this point, as it is still early days and Google has yet to disclose many details about it. However, according to SEOs and webmasters, there has been a significant number of queries that been impacted by the change, one study suggesting a 20%+- impact. My estimated guess is it is a major update and a core update, which will affect more features, including the knowledge graph, non-local pack results, etc.

What has changed?

With certain queries, a local listing pack will come up on the SERP (search engine results page). It looks like this.

Local Pack Results

The Pigeon update dramatically lowers the number of queries that come with a local listing pack, as shown by this this SERP feature graph below:

Local Results History

Looking at the percentage of queries that display a local pack, it dropped considerably on the  July 24th  12.1% to 2.5% on July 28th. However, on July 30th, we noticed a refresh, which moved it back to 9.3%.

Solution: If you have noticed a drop in traffic to your website, do not panic! In the short term, I would recommend boasting traffic with a strong PPC campaign. Over a longer period, you will want to concentrate on strong local SEO campaign that will get you back into the local listing pack.

Website Authority is more important

We have noticed the more authoritative websites, mainly directories, receiving an increase in local visibility. Authority has played an effect on local search results in the past; however, Pigeon seems to place more emphasis on this metric. Like traditional web search result, your authority might be the difference between you and your competitors.

Solution: With every SEO campaign, you should have a component to improve your reputation / authority online. Make sure you are included in major directories online and contact your local SEO company for a digital marketing assessment.

Important local SEO factors to consider

Early metrics suggest that local directory sites, like Yelp, have seen a boost in rankings. In fact, some local search queries are only displaying businesses that are from well-known local directories. For this reason, it is vital that you make sure that your name-address-phone (NAP) is matching on your website, business directories, social networks and most of important your Google+ Local Business Page. With Google+, go that extra step and verify your business.

Many other factors can influence your local visibility for search queries. Titan Digital has a team of experts that can help your business online, contact us for more details.