Google’s Pigeon – An Algorithm Update Aimed at Local Businesses


Google announced a new algorithm change on July 24 that primarily effects brick and mortar stores that depend on business from local shoppers. Google didn’t provide a name for the update; however, it has been termed the Pigeon update by a leading SEO resource “Search Engine Land”.

Like most algorithm updates from Google, the change is designed to provide a better search experience for users, but in this case with an emphasis on local searches, it provides less favoritism towards Google Place Listings.

What does this mean for local businesses?

Businesses with local directory site listings are ranking better and have better visibility on Google than they did before. The update will also affect local businesses and retailers that rely on traditional SEO for their websites. Small businesses will need to evaluate where their site traffic is coming from, and leverage the source, versus chasing listings like Google Places, which at one time helped with rankings more than other directories.

Happy customers can help a site rank higher!Google Pigeon - DoubleDome

The adage is true; happy customers attract more happy customers. To help with ranking in light of the Pigeon, local businesses should make an effort to increase the number of positive reviews on local directories. Yelp and other local and popular directory sites have experienced a boost in ranking, so local businesses should make sure they are on those directories and that happy customers are sharing their positive experiences about the business. Not only do reviews help potential customers preview your business and how people feel about it before they visit, but they also help your website rank higher on Google.

Which Directories Should I focus on?

Because the update will make it more difficult for smaller individual websites that advertise local businesses to rank very high with Google, it is advised to focus on the more prominent directories like Yelp, Urbanspoon, Trip Advisor, and others. Create a business page on the ones where it’s allowed. Also, research how your sites backlinks, content, and other online SEO ranking characteristics standup against your competitors.

All directories now receive prominence with Google, so paying attention to and understanding that site drives the most traffic to your site is a critical part in your decision on where to put your attention. Although directories are getting more of an even playing field, it is still advised to keep a presence on Google Places and Google Plus accounts.

What do I do if my site has experienced a drop in traffic?

In the short term, run a PPC campaign. For a longer term strategy, put your energy into local and prominent directory listings for appropriate keywords. Additionally, review your directory listings and make sure you maintain accurate and consistent listing information like category, name, address and phone number across all directories, including Google listings like your Google Plus and Google Place profiles.

The Pigeon update has only been rolled out for US English search results, and there has been no reference to when or if the algorithm update will roll out for other countries or languages. If there is concern about your website’s local ranking, contact the SEO professionals at DoubleDome Web Technologies for a free SEO evaluation.

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Chris co-founded DoubleDome Digital Marketing, merging his business degree and technical consulting experience with his fondness for all things Internet. Focused on sales & marketing, Chris has led DoubleDome to 20 straight years of profitability. He leads the marketing and sales groups.
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