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What is ‘Google Pigeon’ and how will it affect your local search results?

At the end of July, Google made several changes to its local ranking   algorithm. Although they have not yet released a name for the algorithm,   it has been dubbed by many as ‘Google Pigeon’.

Reduce the risks of being negatively impacted by Google Pigeon by following our tips below

Reduce the risks of being negatively impacted by Google Pigeon by following our tips below

So what’s Google Pigeon all about?

As with any Google algorithm, ‘Pigeon’ has been put in place to ensure accurate results are displayed when people carry out searches.

But unlike other algorithms, this one is focused upon local searches. The aim of the recent updates is to ensure that local searches mimic the traditional organic search rankings more closely.

Although Google have not yet released an official statement on the end goals associated with the update, they have stated that Pigeon ties deeper into Google’s search capabilities, including many different ranking signals which play a part in determining SERPs within non-local searches. This also includes search features such as spelling correction, Google’s Knowledge Graph, synonyms and more.

How does Google Pigeon affect search results?

google pigeon

One of the main changes many people have seen since the algorithm update is a facelift to the ‘Google Local 7-Pack’. The 7-Pack is the name for the group of seven Google Maps listings you are typically presented with during a local search (see the image to the right as an example).

Although the algorithm appears to have only been applied to Google.com search results within the U.S., the effects upon the 7-pack there were visible almost immediately. Many users saw a shift in the results appearing within this section, whilst others reported that it had completely disappeared. In instances where the 7-Pack still shows but with different results, we can see a much tighter focus of local businesses within the immediate area of search.

Another change noticed by researchers following the algorithm update is a shift in the webpages being returned within the top 10 organic search results. Major business directories are starting to gain better visibility on page 1 in place of other sites.

Will Google Pigeon have an effect on my website rankings?

If you are outside of the U.S., then you may not see any of the above changes to the way local Google searches are being displayed. When or if the algorithm update is applied to Google throughout other countries, you may witness a fluctuation in rankings.

As Google have not yet released an official statement on what we can expect as a result of the Pigeon algorithm, it’s difficult to know who will suffer or benefit. It’s also impossible to know whether the above effects are to be expected when / if Pigeon is rolled out worldwide, or if they are simply a product of testing. But there are a number of precautions you can take into consideration when preparing for a possible roll-out of Google Pigeon.

How can I prepare for Google Pigeon?

There are a number of steps you can take to try and minimise the affect of this algorithm update on your website rankings:

  1. Google Maps / Google+ Local: The first thing we recommend is to ensure that your Google Map listings and Google+ Local listings are as up to date as possible. Make sure that you have claimed all listings associated with your business, that they are 100% accurately filled out and that the map pin is placed at the exact location of your company.

  2. Local Business Directories: Carry out some research into all major local directories that you could list your business with. Claim any existing listings or create new listings, and optimise them as well as you can.

  3. Optimised Website: Ensure that you have a high quality website associated with your business, which is completely optimised for a variety of local search terms. It should contain high quality, original content and be well built.

  4. Quality Backlink Profile: Having a high quality backlink profile can help strengthen your website’s authority within Google and similar search engines. Having backlinks from the aforementioned local business directories pointing to location specific pages within your website will help with this.

  5. Updated Contact Information: Ensure that all contact information, whether it be your address, telephone number, website address, email address etc, are up to date across all websites and directory listings. Make sure that this information is consistent throughout.

Have you been affected by Google Pigeon?

If you believe that you’ve been affected by Google Pigeon, or you’re worried about the consequences of the latest Google algorithm updates, then we are more than happy to help take the necessary steps to reduce impact / prepare for a worldwide roll-out.

If you would like more information on how we can help or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the experts at Varn on 01225 863047. We look forward to hearing from you.