What Does Pigeon Mean For Your Local Business?
Over two weeks ago, Google released a local algorithm update that industry experts are calling Pigeon. Pigeon aims at improving local search results for users by making the results more relevant and accurate. The new Pigeon update has features including spelling correction capabilities, Google’s knowledge graph, and detecting search synonyms. As a result of the update, Google is placing local directories higher in the search results than small businesses. While this is benefiting the big players of local directories like Yelp and TripAdvisor, it is hurting small businesses rankings that do not carry the same amount of SEO strength. In some cases, the entire first page is filled with local directories, for terms like “Chicago pizza” or “Miami hotels.” In a few search queries, small business sites do not show up in the results until as far as the third page.
Google’s main goal for the algorithm update is to improve the local search experience for users, and to make results appear more organic than they have in the past. To do this, Google has nearly eliminated the presence of local seven packs for many search results. The decrease has hurt many small businesses that only ranked in the local pack and are no longer being featured on the first page of the search results.
So what can you do to continue getting business even when your site isn’t ranking? First, you can consider running a PPC campaign to boost your chances of being seen on the search results page. Since Pigeon seems to favor local directories, make sure your business is listed correctly on the leading local directories, as well as directories specific to your niche. Although Google seems to no longer include local packs on SERPs, they are still using the local carousel that appears at the top of the results page for some search queries. To utilize the carousel, make sure your business has high quality Google+ photos, and encourage customers to review your business.
Google+ pages will also play a large role when ranking in local search results. When creating your Google+ page make sure your business is listed in the most appropriate categories to enhance the chances of appearing in the search results when that category is searched. It has been noted that having the same area code in your business telephone number that is associated with your business location can improve your rankings. Also having several reviews of your business can influence your local search rankings, so encourage customers to leave reviews whenever possible.
Overall, the update is trying to enhance local results for users. Google wants to make sure only the best and most relevant pages are being shown, and that the results appear as organic as possible (hence the drastic decline in the frequency of local packs), so the best way to boost your business is to make it exceptional! White hat SEO tactics are still being rewarded by Google, so make sure your website is optimized for your industry and location. Add geo modifiers to title tags, include keywords in your business title, and implement other SEO best practices.
How is your business adjusting to Google’s newest update? Reach out to our SEO team with your stories and your questions.