When Google announce an algorithm change or update, SEO’s are known to fly into a panic, especially when that update has the name of an animal attached to it, so the news that the “Pigeon update” arrived on US search results on July 24, 2014 was met with more than a little apprehension, and it is likely that UK and worldwide search results will be affected by it in future rollouts of the update.
Following the pattern of panda and penguin the other popular animal named updates, we now have pigeon. This update was not named by Google but instead the team over at Search Engine Land when Google said they had no internal name for the update.
The pigeon update will align the local search algorithm with traditional organic search signals to produce a new updated result.
The Pigeon update was created to provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results by improving their distance and location ranking parameters, including Google Maps results and the more traditional web searches. The result of the update saw many local businesses in America notice a massive increase or decrease in their local search rankings, and business owners have been a mixture of elated, confused and furious, depending on the results they saw.
As everybody knows, a drop in Google rankings – local or otherwise – can have a dramatic effect on your business, from website traffic, referrals and leads. According to Search Engine Land, Google informed them that the new algorithm update tied deeper into their web search capabilities, including Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms and the various other ranking signals they use to make their web searches the best around.
The impact of Google Pigeon so far
When SEO experts in the US analysed a number of algorithm fluctuations after Google Pigeon struck they found one of the main casualties to be the local listing results which are those shown with a map pin associated to an address. These previously appeared in 12% of results and after the update could have dropped to as low as 3% appearance.
There have been a number of signs in the US that directories showed an improvement in the rankings after the pigeon release, particularly those with a high domain authority like Yelp. Other major changes include an even more targeted radius for search results where the area parameters have been significantly reduced.
These listings are connected to Google maps and use the information taken from ‘Google My Business’ and high authority directories. These listings have strong visibility on Google results in relevant searches that Google deems to have local intent. The main casualties from the potential pigeon update will be companies that rely on these maps listings only for search engine visibility.
So far, Google haven’t announced a worldwide roll-out for the Pigeon update but UK website owners would be wise to give their local SEO a spruce up, just in case the Pigeon takes flight to this part of the world.
Preparing Your Website for the Pigeon Update
- Keep Informed – Read blogs such as Moz, Search Engine Land and of course RAD SEO. They are on the lookout for news 24/7 and will keep you updated with any Google news, including a refresh of this new update.
- Update Your Directories – Have a Google+ Local page? Updated it lately? It might be time to give it a once over, because this can have an effect on your rankings. Make sure your name, address, post code, telephone are accurate across directories.
- Be Competitive with Your Keyword Choice – It might be time to give your keywords a rethink, especially if you are focussing on a certain niche in your location.
- Refresh Your Website Content – Give your entire site an overhaul, ensuring that your content is the best it can be, with a focus on who you are, what you do and where you’re located. A local content strategy will pay dividends for your local presence.
- Traditional SEO tactics – Continue to implement on page SEO tactics including content, title tags, maps, NAP etc
Much of the advice is what you should already be applying to your strategy to achieve the best local seo results and stay in line with Google’s best practice guidelines.
Enhance your local search presence
There is a lot more to your businesses success in the local community that isn’t related to your online presence, but can translate to your local SEO. For example, if you are a community leader in your field, your customers are going to sing your praises, and in this day-and-age, that means online reviews, blog posts, social media and comments (on your blog posts and sent to you via your website).
As long as your business has a solid reputation offline, and you are doing everything in your power to maintain your standing, there is no reason why your rankings should be hit by the Pigeon update, if and when it heads this way. Keep positive and legitimate, and you should have nothing but good local SEO opportunities.