Google is always updating its algorithms, and while it’s great for searchers who are trying to get the most relevant results, it can also be problematic for business owners who have adapted their website and business to Google’s previously existing standards.
In the last few years, Google’s updates have been hard-hitting and somewhat radical, even though casual searchers probably noticed nothing:
Now, we’re looking at the most recent animal-themed Google algorithm update—Pigeon.
The “Pigeon Update” is so named by Search Engine Land in the absence of an official name from Google. Despite the fact that Google has not named the update officially, it does appear that the algorithm is significant enough to cause some major waves in the world of SEO, particularly in local results.
Before we take a look at what the Pigeon Update specifically involves, let’s take a look at the possible motivating factors for its release:
The bottom line for the Pigeon Update is an improvement in local search results, both in traditional web searches and Google Maps. As an expansion to the overhaul algorithm update Hummingbird, the Pigeon Update will give a greater weight to the searcher’s location in generating search results, and more local results will be displayed at the top of the page.
Ultimately, the update will accomplish four things:
Unlike the Panda and Penguin updates, the Pigeon Update does not appear to be penalty based. That is to say, your webpage will not suffer the wrath of Google for any black hat-related infractions. However, the changes to location and distance data and favoritism toward local directories could be problematic for some local business owners.
If you currently own and operate a small business, the Pigeon Update will probably cause some changes in the amount of traffic you receive and the type of traffic you receive. Depending on where and how you are listed in local directories, this could be a good thing or a bad thing.
Some local businesses might maintain or slightly improve in rank thanks to better, more accurate location-specific search results. Other local businesses will benefit peripherally thanks to a higher emphasis on local directory traffic. Other local businesses might suffer in terms of traffic, especially if their information in local directories is obsolete or lacking in relevance. While it’s important to keep in mind that Google is not penalizing local businesses without a strong local directory presence, the possibility of dropping in rank is real.
As a local business, you could therefore experience four possibilities, depending on your specific location and how you are listed in local directories:
If you aren’t targeting a local audience, the Pigeon Update will not affect you.
If you’re a local business suffering from less traffic as a result of the Pigeon Update, there are a handful of steps you can take to correct your drop. Since you have not been penalized by Google, don’t think of this as domain authority recovery. Think of it as an adjustment to your SEO strategy in response to these new changes:
Moving forward, it’s important to note Google’s broader intentions. Its primary goals are giving more weight to informational directories, improving the accuracy of local searches, and catering to mobile device users, so the more you can do to stay in line with these trends, the better. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, update your local listings whenever you can, and keep watch for new directories to stay ahead of the game.
If you need help determining how the Pigeon Update affected your business’s listings or need help responding to those changes, get in touch with us!