Google Pigeon – Local Listings Are Flapping About

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Google recently pushed out its latest algorithm update, an unnamed update that affects local searches.

While internally at Google it is unnamed, as the update turned out to be a fairly wide reaching algorithm, the folks over at SearchEngineLand decided to name the update Pigeon.

Right now the update is only affecting US English search results, but once it’s stable it may well be rolled out to other areas.

What exactly does it do?

The Pigeon algorithm is targeting local directory listings. These are the listing for local business that come up when you do a Google search for place name plus business type.

There are several aspects of local listings that have (or haven’t) been affected by this update:

Local listing packs

These “packs” are the listings that appear in a block after your search, such as the one pictured below.

Google Pigeon Local Listings

It has been speculated by Moz Cast that these listings have been reduced dramatically. Their statistics suggest a sudden and steep drop off in the number of packs shown.

The thing is, these statistics might not be accurate. Other SEO’s have been looking at the statistics and particularly how they were generated and have raised concerns about the sharp decline.

They believe that while the 7 packs may well have gone down, the severity is not as bad as Moz’s chart suggests.

I think that the listing packs are going to be in a state of flux for a short period, while the algorithm is tested in the wild and becomes stable.

It’s most likely that the listing packs will be reduced in certain queries, but it is doubtful that they will be abandoned.

Local listing being affected by SEO

SerchEngineLand’s research into the update has yielded a surprising result, in that it appears that local listing is now at least in part affected by standard SEO.

This means that as a local business, getting listed is now going to be more difficult.

If you are a local business, or offer listing services for local business you will need to put more focus on the sites own SEO: onsite keywords and SEO optimization as well as the backlink strategy and social awareness.

Google Pigeon SEO Results
Image courtesy of Blumenthals.com

Yelp and other directories get a boost

On the flip side of the above, businesses such as Yelp and other directory services have had a boost in the search results.

This is likely to be for two reasons: firstly, these sort of sites already have a strong SEO system in place due to their need for ranking in the SERP results.

As well as that it could be down to the fact that Yelp has accused Google of manipulating the search results so that Googles results are favoured over Yelp’s even when the word Yelp is used in the search query.

Yelp joining in on an antitrust complaint against Google may well be a factor too!

More businesses added

About 5 years ago businesses such as SEO companies, Web Designers and Advertising Agencies were removed from the local listings. According to blumenthals.com they are now back in business so to speak, as results are now showing up with a local listings pack.

Local carousel unaffected

As far as researchers can see the top carousel that appears for some users hasn’t so far been affected by the update.

Google Pigeon

As always with any Google update, things are likely to change.

The updates don’t seem to be as severe as Moz originally thought, but they do still seem to be affecting smaller business in a detrimental way, while allowing the larger and perhaps more established directories a longer leash.

Has your business been affected by the Google Pigeon update? Let me know all about it in the comments below!

Photo credit by avrene

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