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Yet Another Google Update – This Time With Pigeons

No, not Google’s original plan for the algorithm, PigeonRank.

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Once again, Google has rolled out another algorithm update. The recent “Pigeon Update”, as named by Search Engine Land, is impacting local search results currently in the United States. Unlike the Panda and Penguin updates, this algorithm update does not aim to punish websites with low-quality or irrelevant content. Instead this update is a significant alteration to the local search algorithm.

Due to the update, local businesses have noticed substantial changes in their local search ranking over the past few days. SEO PowerSuite has put together an in-depth and informative explanation of the noted changes in the local search results over the past week. 

Google has noted the algorithm update emphasizes traditional web search ranking signals when compiling results for local search. If you noticed an increased ranking for your business, you are clearly following the best local search practices. Keep it up!

On the flip side, if you fell off of the rankings or decreased, either your competition is doing a great job at local search marketing or you need to step up your game. Read on for a few tips on improving your local search strategy.

Check Your Directory Listings

One main impact of the Pigeon update is the noticeable inclusion of directory listings, such as Yelp, in the search results. This change is likely due to Yelp’s claim that Google was manipulating the results to display Google’s local listings before theirs, even when a user included the term ‘yelp’ in the search.

The Yelp listing exclusion issue was fully resolved with the latest update. Hopefully Yelp expressed their gratitude to Google.

But what does this mean for you and your local business?

With an emphasis on these directories, it is pertinent for your business to be included in local, niche and popular directories

When completing your directory listings, take the time to ensure that your business information is filled out and formatted correctly. If your name, address, phone number and other information varies from directory to directory, this could impact your local search ranking negatively.

Local Listing Packs Affected

With the latest algorithm update, it has been noticed that certain keywords are not displaying local listing 7-packs. It has decreased to roughly 3 or more listings, depending on the particular search. The decrease in listings could mean a significant drop in traffic for many business websites not included in the 3-pack (5-pack, etc.).

With that in mind, it is in your best interest to find out which keywords related to your products, services and industry are displaying the local listing packs and optimize your website for those keywords. 

If you experienced an extreme drop in traffic and are unable to wait for the long term effects of onsite optimization, a short-term PPC campaign is a viable option for your business.

Ride the Carousel

If you haven’t noticed the carousel feature on Google yet, go ahead and give it a whirl. Try searching for a restaurant, hotel or other service, and you’ll quickly notice the horizontal rotation of listings at the top of your page.

Is your business in this selection? If not, you need to make sure that it is, and soon.

The Google Carousel feature takes multiple factors into consideration when determining which listings will be featured in the group, such as:

  • +1’s on the Google + local business page
  • Google+ Reviews – number and rating
  • The keyword in the URL
  • Number of citations
  • +1’s on the URL

When looking to be featured in the carousel, make sure that your Google+ local business page is completed and contains high quality images of your business. There is nothing worse than a business listing without a picture or a terrible picture featured in the carousel results.

Review Your Tactics

Lastly, this is a good time to review your local search marketing strategy. As mentioned previously, the algorithm update emphasizes traditional web search ranking signals, such as domain authority, back links, keywords and other common ranking factors into consideration when displaying local search results.

If your search rankings have dropped in the past week, it is a good idea to take a look at your local search plan and see where you can improve or what traditional tactic (such as those listed above) you can implement.

Remember, this update is not a penalty based update. Therefore, if your rankings have dropped and your competition has improved, you simply need to take a more aggressive approach to your search marketing strategy while keeping within best practices. Keep in mind that search marketing takes time to receive optimal results. Instead of becoming frustrated with your decreased rankings, take a deep breath and try again.

Our Experience With the Pigeon Update

So far, several local search marketing clients at Titan Web Marketing Solutions have seen an improvement in their local rankings with the introduction of the Pigeon update. One of our HVAC clients has experienced improved local search results within the past few days, as seen by the image below:

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The Pigeon update is still developing and different search marketing directors and web masters have seen varying results. What has your experience with the Pigeon update been?

Should you notice your business has fallen from the rankings, give the search marketing team at Titan Web Marketing Solutions a call at 615-890-3600.



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