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See How Google Pigeon is Working Over Local Search

Business Technology | November 11, 2014

Local search had been spared much volatility since the Hummingbird update last fall, but that’s all changed now with the Pigeon update.

The stated aim of this update is to more closely tie local results with what the standard web ranking signals now are. This is presumably done to make rankings more consistent, and increase the quality of the results. While it’s not clear if it will succeed in those aims, there are a few ramifications that are clear, and the effects they are having is very real for some local businesses.

Let’s have a look at 3 ways Pigeon is evidently impacting local search, and what if anything there is to do about it.

3 Ways Pigeon is affecting local search

  • Strong brand directories are winning – Directories like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Yellowpages.com are seeing an up to 10 percent increase in traffic and rankings, often showing up multiple times for a local search.
  • Smaller map radius – The view shown by Maps is now in many cases much smaller, reducing the number of businesses found in an area, and consequently opening the door for more directory results in order to have anything to show at all. This makes it problematic for locations just outside the exact search area to be seen as a choice in a neighboring locale search.
  • Phasing out of the 7 pack – Far fewer local search terms are benefiting from the increased visibility of the 7-pack. Even though some larger search terms still show this, most now show a 3-pack with a reduced map radius, or nothing at all. The real world traffic loss experts are reporting that a local business not showing up any longer in the map pack is losing 16 percent a month. Quite significant.

As the Pigeon update plays out and the feathers quit flying, and goes through a few incarnations, it’s going to be more clear what the lasting impact will be for your local search results. For now, making sure you are optimizing your local directory listings for all they’re worth appears to be your best line of defense.


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