On July 24, 2014 Google launched the Pigeon Update, the biggest change to Google’s “Local Search” since 2012. Reports are finally coming out now as to what effects this has caused.
Local Search is important to companies that serve mainly local customers. Google knows when it’s appropriate for searchers to see listings that are close by. Searches for things that are not area sensitive, such as electronics or books, do not have local listings in the results page. But if you are searching for a dentist or a pizza, then Google will automatically show results that are close to you; that’s Local Search.
The Pigeon Update affected only Local Search listings. So far, reports indicate that local directories are being given far more preference in the organic listings. The 7 listings that are tied to the Google Map, which are displayed on page-one of the SERP (search engine results page), were impacted by this update. Those companies that had a good presence in the local directories, like Yelp, fared better than those who did not.
The Winners and Losers After Pigeon
First, who benefited? The percentage refers to the increase or decrease, within a type of business, in Google Places (tied to the Map).
Next, who lost ground in the Pigeon Update?
Real estate (-63%)
According to Google, the Pigeon Update improved distance and ranking parameters. And indeed, some reports have shown that results are displaying for a much smaller radius.
So, it may be time to start thinking even more locally, and begin including neighborhood indicators in your local SEO strategy. This means adding your city and state to your Title meta tags, and your page content. It also means mentioning neighborhood names or landmarks in your web page text.
If you do a search in Google for your company name, you should see not only your web site, but all the local directories that list your firm. It’s important that these are showing accurate information. If you see any errors, you should get these corrected as soon as possible. Conflicts or absence in local directory data will cost you in the rankings.