Google’s Pigeon Update: What Does it Mean for Local Marketers?

BMI Icon Marketing Written by: BrandMuscle Marketing

As a marketer, you’re probably aware of the Pigeon (Local Algorithm) update that Google pushed out late this summer. It’s a major update that will have a significant impact on local search results, so we wanted to cover off on the basics here.Unlike other recent Google updates, Pigeon is a core change to the local search ranking algorithm and not a penalty-based update aimed at cleaning up search engine results and removing low-quality content. It’s a significant update for local searches and local businesses that aims to provide more useful, relevant, accurate local search results within both web search and Google Maps search results.

The update includes two main parts that you should pay attention to:

  1. The algorithm update improves Google’s distance and location ranking parameters.
  2. The update ties local search results more closely to traditional web search ranking signals, including domain authority, backlinks, metadata and other SEO ranking factors.

The distance/location update is a main change that will affect local businesses. In many cases, the radius of a search query has decreased. For example, if you’re searching for a clothing store in Austin, Texas, the search radius has decreased from 12 to 6 miles when the search is done from a mobile phone. This update will also affect web search results and Google Map results.

In terms of mobile marketing, a smaller search radius could be viewed as a positive change. By returning results that are closer and more relevant to a customer when searching for your store on their mobile device, the likelihood of them coming to your store and making a transaction is much greater.The second major change associated with Google’s Pigeon update impacts “Map Packs,” which are displayed as boxes with a business’ phone and address in organic listings:

For some search queries, these have completely disappeared, but for others, there are no longer multiple listings of separate businesses, only the highest authority listing within that area. Also, before the update, Map Packs generally included seven listings. After the update, the size of the map packs may vary, and organic listings could be pushed downed by paid and starred listings.

What to do:

Overall, some local business may notice an increase or decrease in web site referrals, leads and businesses due to the Pigeon Algorithm update. Keep a close eye on your site and be prepared to act swiftly if you notice a drop, to minimize revenue damage.

We’ll post Local Marketing Search Tips to Overcome Pigeon as a follow up to this post later this week. Until then, we’re curious: Have you noticed your website impacted by the Pigeon update?

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