On July 24, 2014, Google released a new and major algorithm update for local search, which industry’s SEO resource “Search Engine Land” named “Pigeon” update. This latest update from Google aims to deliver improved local search results, with enhanced location and distance ranking parameters.
Unlike Penguin and Panda updates, it is not a penalty-based update, but it is a core change to the local search ranking algorithm. With release of this update, some local businesses may notice an increase or decrease in website referrals, leads and business. The changes caused by this update will be visible within the Google Web search results and Google Maps search results. Google told search engine result that:
- This new algorithm ties deeper into web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals that are used for web search along with search features such as spelling correction, knowledge graph, synonyms and more.
- This algorithm also improves distance and location ranking parameters.
This algorithm update is currently rolling out for US English results. Google did not share any details about if and when this latest update would roll out more widely in other languages and countries. In order to give you a better idea of the update, I have outlined all the changes going on (both those noticed by businesses and claimed by Google):
1. Local listing packs has been disappeared:
After this update, a drastically lower number of queries are seen and these queries now include a local listing pack on their SERPs. See the image:
In SERP feature graph by MOZ Cast, this number falls from 12.1% of queries on July 23rd to only 3.3% on July 27th. See the image:
2- High ranking for local directories like Yelp
Various local directories like Yelp have seen a considerable boost in their rankings. For example- if we search for “canlis yelp”, following results for restaurants appear:
3-Local carousel is one of the best ways to gain extra exposure
Local carousel results remain unaffected by this new update and show up with almost the same frequency as before. This means local carousel can still be a great way to gain extra exposure for some local keywords.
4-Website authority plays a vital role in local rankings
This algorithm update is more tied with the traditional web search ranking signals. This may mean that local rankings will now be more determined by SEO rankings factors like domain authority, back-links, etc.
Some advice for website owners
With the release of Google’s new algorithm update, one question that might pop up in your mind is “How can I benefit from this update?” So here are some effective tips for your local business to get better Google exposure.
- Keep in mind the goal of this Google Pigeon algorithm update is to tie local results more closely to standard web ranking signals. Therefore, those sites that have solid and strong SEO signals are going to succeed in the war of high ranking.
- If your local rankings have suddenly dropped, you should run a thorough competition research to see how your website’s content, back-links and other SEO characteristics stand to those of other high ranking websites.
- You should build a solid business presence on leading local directories in your industry. For that, you have to find the most influential local directories in your niche and make sure that your business is listed in each of these directories.
- You should make sure your business name, phone number and address are also consistent in all the local directories where your business is listed.
- Maintaining active Google Places and Google+ presence is always recommended.
- You should make proper category for your Google+ Local page. For example- if you wish to appear in the local search engine result page for a search like “Web Designers in Denver”, your business must be categorized as a web designer.
- The number of positive reviews on Google+ Local page and on third-party sources has a proven influence on local search rankings.
- Since carousel results put a heavy emphasis on ranking, you should make sure to put a high-quality and attractive images in your Google+ business profile.
- Make sure that your website is current, attracts attention, hosts relevant information and promotes your business in a positive manner.
- You should include city or state into your website’s title tags.
- Having the name of a core goods or services in your business name may give you some advantage over other competitors who lack this.
The so called Google’s pigeon update has made organic SEO a more influential component of local search. This update is revolutionizing the way listings are displayed in search results; therefore, you should take necessary steps to ensure your business benefits from this new algorithm.
Is there anything else I forgot to mention about Google Pigeon Update? Do let me know in comments.