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Google Pigeon: What's Local Got To Do With It?

Google Pigeon Update Image

On 24 July Google rolled out a new nameless update to its algorithm, which affected the local listings for US English searches. The update was unnamed by Google on its release, but has since been dubbed the ‘Pigeon Update’ by searchengineland.com. Google has not released many details on the update such as if and when it will be released in other regions and languages or whether it includes any web spam features, but have said that it applies more of the ranking signals from its web search to the local search algorithm.

The release of the Pigeon update caused a large drop in local search listings appearing in the SERPs from in 12.1% of search on 23 July to 4.2% on 25 July (shown by Mozcast). There has been uplift since as the new algorithm settles in and there have been some teething issues spotted such as Expedia showing as a New York Hotel.

Local Listing Pack decrease in visibility from Mazcast

It will take a while until there is a more complete understanding of the update, but initial research among SEOs shows local directories and review sites have received a large boost in visibility with sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor appearing higher in the SERPS for locally qualified searches. The effect of the promotion of these sites in the SERPs is decreased visibility for local sites. This has given more importance to having your site listed in local and niche directories in addition to having plenty of good reviews as a means of driving referral traffic.

Also as the new ‘Pigeon’ algorithm uses more general web search ranking signals such PageRank and backlinks it favours more authoritative sites, with local sites of lower quality appearing lower in the SERPs or not in the Local listings pack at all. In order to compete sites should optimise their site’s location information such a Name Address and Phone Number (NAP) details, integrate Google maps, localise server location, and meta data as well as on their Social Media pages, especially Google+ Local pages.

If you have experienced any changes in your Google listings and fall in web traffic we are able to help you implement a local SEO or Social Media campaign to improve your visibility and increase your traffic.

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