On July 24, Google released what the folks at SearchEngineLand later dubbed the Pigeon update. This algorithm change was aimed square at refining local search, for example any search with terms such as “auto lube,” “coffee shop” or “hardware store” – where Google determines there is a local intent.
If you’ve paid attention, you know that Google will show what’s called a “local pack” in these types of searches. This is a set of up to 7 local business listings that Google deems relevant enough to plot on a small map right on the SERP. Aside from the mapping function, these listings also stand apart from normal organic listings by providing other actionable information within the listing: Name, Address and Phone number (NAP), and if applicable, a Google+ link and ratings and/or review.
What the Pigeon Update Did…
As a result of the Pigeon update, businesses have seen changes to the types of searches displaying (or no longer displaying) local packs, as well as a shift in the makeup of the local businesses being presented in these searches. One notable example is that searches in the Real Estate space (i.e. “real estate” or “realtors”) appear to be entirely devoid of local packs, at least as of this point in time.
…And What You Can Do Now
Has your business been affected by the Pigeon update? If you’ve seen improvements in your local search profile, this is a good time to continue building your online marketing strategy. If, on the other hand, you took a hit, there are a few things we’re recommending:
- If your business was previously in a local pack, but is no longer included after the Pigeon update, you are probably seeing a drop in calls and visits…and potentially revenue. If the drop is significant enough, you may want to start a limited, local Google AdWords campaign to make up for the difference in exposure. This will enable you to get back onto the SERP quickly, even if you have to use paid placement to achieve this in the short term.
- In addition to PPC ads, we are also advising clients to take control over their local business listings on sites such as Yelp, CitySearch, etc., since local directories appear to be factoring more favorably in the post-Pigeon world. In the quest for Local SEO, you want to make sure that these local listing sources are all consistent and optimized to help customers find important info for your business. This means making sure your NAP information matches across all platforms, and that you’re attracting customer reviews. If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business page yet (and a presence on Google+), you’re missing an opportunity as well.
As a Google Partner, Catalyst Studio helps clients leverage Google AdWords campaigns to meet their most important goals, whether it’s building brand awareness, increasing traffic and engagement, or driving sales (conversions). We also support clients with Local SEO services that simplify the process of claiming, managing and optimizing third-party local directory listings and establishing a social media strategy. Let us fix your Google ranking issues – contact us for a free estimate.