Google Pigeon has taken flight. In July of this year, Google released a major algorithm update that has received less attention than Panda or Hummingbird. But if you’re a local business building a digital profile, Google’s Pigeon update is one of the most relevant ones they’ve released to date. While experts are still working to decode what Pigeon means for specific businesses and exactly how to combat it, many small business sites have been affected. Here’s a closer look at what factors Google’s Pigeon update addressed, who was affected, and what you should do if your site was impacted.
What was Pigeon?
Google has stated that Google’s Pigeon updates were designed to streamline the local search results so that they were more aligned with the standard search engine results. It was initially rolled out on July 24, 2014 and targeted toward US English queries. Two specific insights have emerged from analysis recently released on Search Engine Watch by BrightEdge. The first is that specific sectors, such as real estate and restaurants, have been influenced. The second is that results from directories such as Yelp are showing up more frequently than individual site results in local search queries.
What was the impact?
Based on the research referenced above, it’s helpful to think of the fallout of Pigeon by industry. Some sectors have benefited with increased visibility, while others have found that the change negatively impacted their search engine positons. Measuring results according to their appearance in Google Places results, real estate, jobs, movies, and insurance have all seen a decline. Conversely, industries like hospitality, food, education, spas, medical and fitness have all seen a jump. Below, we’ll make a number of suggestions that your business can implement to perform better in post-Pigeon Google search results.
What steps can you take if you were affected?
Further localizing your SEO:
One factor that played a role in the changed results is Google’s shifting definition of “local.” The radius of the search results appears to have been reduced significantly. If you’re in an urban area, it’s time to consider adding neighborhood indicators to your SEO strategy. If your business is located in the suburbs or a rural area, target town-level keywords.
Take advantage of Google My Business
It’s more important than ever before that your company is listed in the Google My Business database. A full-profile allows you to control your information, and gives you increased visibility in search, Google Maps, and Google +.
Claim and Control Your Listings
By now, you’re likely aware of the importance of customer reviews on sites such as Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor. One of the best steps you can take as a business is to claim and optimize your profiles on all the relevant sites. Not only is this key to reputation management, but the ability to further localize your profiles will improve your chances of ranking well for local searches.
Some months ago, Google introduced Google Carousel. This refers to the rotation of images and business details at the top of the search engine results for any local queries (see image above). Specific steps need to be taken to optimize for the Carousel. The first is establishing a Google My Business and a Google + page for your business. The second is detailing those accounts with up to date information and high-resolution, quality pictures. Finally, encourage customers to review your business on Google, since studies indicate that a high number of positive reviews plays an important role on which businesses are displayed.
It's also very important to understand that verifying your business Google does not automatically make your business and website rank well in searches. Ranking your business in your market for you industry takes ongoing online promotion and attention, often provided by SEO companies.
Are you a local business owner whose search results have been impacted by the Google Pigeon update? Contact us at Be Locally SEO today to discuss how our team of local experts can increase your visibility and help you get back to one of the top spots for your area and industry in light of Google Pigeon.