Google Pigeon Algorithm And What It Means For Businesses?

Google Pigeon
Google released a new algorithm about a week ago to help improve the accuracy of local search results. Unofficially dubbed as Google Pigeon, the algorithm was quite significant and local businesses overall are seeing either increases or decreases in website referrals and traffic. The idea is to offer local search results that are more closely related to some of the ranking signals used in search as well as other features like the Knowledge Graph, synonyms, etc. In addition, it is said to improve distance and location parameters to make local search more accurate. So how exactly does this effect local businesses?

An algorithm for local businesses

Google just released an update to this algorithm which was only introduced a week ago. But even so, it is significant for local businesses, and not necessarily in a bad way. Local directories seem to be getting the most out of this update.

In the past, when you would search for something local, you would get your carousel results and then a list of organic results, typically individual restaurants. Now, you will sometimes see directories showing up in the search results below the carousel including OpenTable, Urbanspoon, and even TripAdvisor for certain queries.

Below is a screenshot example of a query with local directory results. For this particular query (and with many other examples), an individual restaurant didn’t show up in organic results until page two. If you were to continue scrolling down this page, you would see results from Zagat, Yelp, and even Groupon.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Yelp ordeal has been solved with this change. Last week we reported about some of the confusion with Yelp and Google, essentially reporting that Yelp wasn’t showing up on search results even when the word “yelp” was used in the search query. In other words, Google was accused of putting their own local results first even when they weren’t the most relevant.
Since the new update, this is no longer the case and Search Engine Land gives several examples here.

What It Means?

As discussed above, if you’re a directory this is a good thing. However, other local businesses may suffer. Keep in mind the goal of this Google Pigeon algorithm update – to tie local results more closely to standard Web ranking signals. With this in mind, it’s those sites that have solid and strong SEO signals that are going to prevail. Directories generally do outrank individual companies in this area, so local businesses are going to have to work harder to come out on top.

Currently this update was only rolled out to US English results, and so far that’s about all we know. We don’t know when Google plans to roll Google Pigeon out to other countries (if at all), and we don’t know the percent of queries impacted. We’re hoping the details will come soon and we will keep you updated.

Want to talk about this new algorithm? Let's do so in the comments section below! Cheers :)

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