A homing pigeon is known for finding its way home. Google’s Pigeon algorithm update was specifically designed to provide users with relevant query results close to home.
The pigeon algorithm was revolutionary and especially loved by local businesses with good SEO practices at its debut. For the first time, Google’s algorithm made it so that local searches had the opportunity to shine.
Ranking higher than other non-local competitions. Below, we tell you everything you need to know about Pigeon:
- What it is,
- How it works,
- How to adjust your SEO so that you can work the update to your advantage.
Launch Date: July 24, 2014
With the rollout of Pigeon, Google was able to provide more useful, relevant, and accurate local search results to its users. Building on the Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird algorithm updates, Pigeon focuses on local queries.
Unlike Panda and Penguin, Pigeon is not a penalty-based update but is a core change to Google’s algorithm.
What Google Pigeon Impacted
Though Pigeon isn’t penalty-based, it’s still crucial that you know how the update affects Google’s web crawlers and what you need to implement to rank as high as possible significantly if local patrons fuel the lifeblood of your business.
Poor On-Page SEO
Penguin’s new local search algorithm is tied more closely with traditional search ranking signals. In other words, your site needs to be as authoritative as possible and have good SEO E-A-T. Don’t skimp on SEO strategies when building your site.
Poor Off-Page SEO
Your site isn’t the only place on the web you need to be monitoring to get high local rankings. If you don’t have your business listed in online directories like Yelp, Trip Advisor, OpenTable, or the like, Pigeon can count it against you, and your rankings will be lower than your competition.
How The Google Pigeon Algorithm Works
Google’s Pigeon update affects local searches and those searches where location plays an important role. Unlike before Pigeon’s release, traditional SEO factors when ranking local results come into play.
So local companies now have to invest more energy and resources into their SEO strategies—both on their site and other locations online—specifically business directory sites.
One of the most apparent notable results of Pigeon was the decrease of Google’s local results “pack.” Initially, these packs were a set of 7 local businesses that would result from a search.
Pigeon reduced that number from 7 down to just three listings beginning in 2015, about a year after it was implemented.
Additionally, Pigeon causes Google to consider businesses with a location and distance most relevant to the user.
More intelligent than ever before, Google’s core algorithm alters the local listings in the search results and gives the top spots to local directory sites.
Google Pigeon Changes to the Local Pack.
One of the most noticeable differences for users searching on Google for local businesses was the change in the local pack.
Before Pigeon, the local pack would include ten or seven businesses in the particular breakout in traditional search, offering more opportunities for businesses to rank well and show up on Page 1 of the SERP.
Within a year of Pigeon launching, the local pack number shrunk to what it is now in 2017, the 3-pack (shown below).
How to Update Your Local SEO To Take Advantage of Google Pigeon
Pigeon is an excellent update for local businesses—if you know how to SEO. There are a few things you can tweak on your site. To ensure that you achieve the highest possible ranking, snag a spot in the coveted 3-pack local results.
Emphasize traditional SEO
Do the old-fashioned hard work of traditional SEO. Build links and publish content that goes above and beyond to give your users the best information. Utilize keywords your target audience is searching for.
Focus on the city or region-specific content
Create images, videos, or written content associated with a specific area, whether a city, state, or region; this will strengthen your authority on local searches.
Publish in local directories
Local directories, like Yelp, OpenTable, Four Square, and the like, are where people get reviews of places to shop, eat, and stay local—plus more.
These sites are huge in not only driving business to your site, but they help legitimize you in the eyes of Google’s crawlers.
The more sites like these that you publish your information on, the more authority and legitimacy your site will have, and the higher it will rank on local searches.
Register for a Google Business Profile page
Chances are, you have a Google Business Profile page, even if you don’t remember signing up for it. Google Business Profile indexes your business’s information to be consistent across Google Search, Maps, etc.
Once you’ve got your page, optimize it to Google has all the info it needs to see that you’re a legitimate local business.
Conclusion: Google Pigeon is Your Local Guide
When you’re conducting a local search, the Pigeon update makes sure you get results that are most relevant to you right where you’re at during the search.
Working off the last three algorithm updates, Google created Pigeon to give you local search results that you want: they’re nuanced, legitimate results—not spam— that are physically near you.
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