Recent Google algorithm updates like Panda, Penguin & Hummingbird have targeted the much wider scene as far as search results go. They’ve been aimed at improving results based on each website’s authority and clear out irrelevant results from SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Now, Google is focusing on something more specific: local search results. Coined ‘Pigeon’ by Search Engine Land, the new update has yet to receive an official name from the search giant. This is probably due to it being a test-run of something that could go global at one point, as it only targets US English results right now.
What Did Pigeon Do and How Does It Affect Your Local Business?
As mentioned above, the Pigeon algorithm update primarily targets local search results. If you own a local business, you might have noticed that your rank within search results experienced a considerable drop/rise in the past few days. Google confirmed it rolled out the new algorithm on the 24th of July this year and people started noticing the change immediately, especially webmasters and business owners.
There are no official figures yet for how many companies have been affected by the algorithm change, but we know what affects them. Improving local search results has been on Google’s to-do list for a while now, so it stands to reason they would eventually start tackling this specific algorithm change.
The most noticeable change local business owners have noticed is the fact that directories like Yelp, Zagat, Groupon, OpenTable, Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor have popped at the forefront of results. Websites belonging specifically to a local business have dropped. The explanation is quite clear – Pigeon ranks websites with more authority, backlinks, better implemented SEO strategies and domain authority higher than local business websites.
We also need to consider that directories such as Yelp have been substantially affected by Google’s last algorithm update and Pigeon may come as a solution to that problem. Before the current algorithm update, Yelp and other similar directories held lower ranks in SERPs, often being outranked by local business websites that didn’t have that much authority in any key element of Google’s search results algorithm.
How Can You Tackle the Problem and Improve Your Ranking?
While it’s not clear yet what exactly has been changed with the new update, what we do know is that past algorithm updates are still in place today and we know how to influence those. So if your local business website has taken a turn for the worst as far as rakings in SERPs go, then you might want to start working on increasing your online presence and authority.
To do this, you’ll need to focus on improving your SEO tactics and practices. Throw in fresh, unique and constantly updated content. Build a wider (white-hat) link base for your website and take advantage of local directory listings, such as offered by Yelp and other similar review websites. If they continue to hold higher positions in search results, it wouldn’t hurt having your own business listed there.
However, until we get some official details about the Pigeon algorithm update, we won’t know exactly what’s it doing and why it’s doing it. We can only assess the results and draw up conclusions based on them. Big business is not targeted by this update – only local business websites seem to be affected at the moment.
What’s more, even if your website has taken a dive in SERPs, you can still relax as it only affects US English search results and there has been no confirmation of Pigeon rolling out worldwide anytime soon. But in order to be prepared, it would be a good idea to start working at improving your website’s local presence. Experts are expected that Pigeon will start ranking websites based on their authority, rather than their local listings.
So, in conclusion, while you don’t have to worry that much about this particular update yet, you may want to consolidate your online presence either way. It can’t hurt and, if indeed Google is going to stick with Pigeon and not use it as a test run, then you’ll be on the safe side.