What Is The Pigeon Update?
Local search results are colossally important to any company because of the huge customer base they can attract. The Pigeon Algorithm was Google’s way of upgrading local search results, dawning a new era of better search engine platforms for local business owners. The major intention of the update was to use distance and location as the main ranking factors to deliver results to the web users who search for local products and services. The update came in 2014, providing an advantageous organic search engine presence through the provision of better local search results. What basically happened with the pigeon update was that it equalized the large and small scale businesses. Local businesses in a specific area could easily be overrun by bigger companies and business owners that have higher popularity, greater size, and known brands. A small scale local business, regardless of how superlative its quality is, could be degraded in the search engine results pages due to its size. The Pigeon Algorithm update sought to fix this.
What Did The Pigeon Algorithm Update Do?
Soon after Google figured out the importance of improving local customer bases towards businesses, several enhancements were made to Google Search and Google Maps in order to promote local searches. Geographical closeness was considered a key factor in filtering the results for users, and their location was taken into consideration in showing related businesses nearby. The results were remarkable.
After its launch in 2014 and this notable success, the Pigeon update was subjected to several modifications that fixed the initial bugs. Improving positively with each update, the Pigeon algorithm is the most effective local algorithm update created so far. But needless to say, Pigeon first came with some noticeable anomalies like fraud properties exploiting exact-match keywords to fool the local algorithms so that their pages would be ranked higher. Several other dysfunctional factors of the update were corrected with each modification. After its original launch, the Pigeon Algorithm was done and redone various times. The update is also the most prominent algorithmic process Google initiated after the Venice update that happened in 2012.
What Did Google Say About Pigeon?
It is very unlike Google to announce each of their updates in detail. The pigeon was also more of a hushed business. Google announced the launch of the first version of the Pigeon update but kept silent in the constant updates that are believed to have followed. The general comment on the update was that it was amalgamated in Google’s most important ranking factors such as spelling corrections, synonyms, Knowledge graphs, and variations. Even though Google did not reveal the details in depth, we have enough evidence to believe that there were a lot of updates to Pigeon in the years that followed in 2014.
How Did Pigeon Impact The SERPs?
Prior to the Pigeon Algorithm, the Google Maps search results were very different than those of now, because they were less integrated with the local businesses. After the update, both Google Maps search and Google Search prioritize local results in the SERPs. (Search Engine Results Pages) It was with the Pigeon update that local directories like Yelp and Home Advisor got the position they deserved in SERPs. Before the update, Yelp was complaining about how Google penalized their site by ranking it down despite all the customer reviews. The Pigeon algorithm update brought the local advisors back on top, which optimized the customer experience in a great deal.
How The Local Pack Changed With Pigeon
The changes Pigeon made to the local pack were specifically beneficial for the users looking for geographically proximate local businesses in results pages. Before the update, the local pack offered space for 7-10 businesses relevant to the user’s query close to his/her location. This opened up the opportunity for many business owners of being visible on top of SERPs. The launching and constant updating of Pigeon resulted in reducing the number of local pack results from ten to three. In the current version of Pigeon, the number of local businesses visible in the local pack is three.
The slashing of local listings was a disadvantage to the website owners, but not the web users. The web users were rewarded with a gist of the best local businesses related to the search query, while the website owners were deprived of the chance to appear on the local pack more often. This was the change that made most local business owners complain. But for the local business owners who do their SEO right and manage to show up in the selected local pack, the benefits of this update are critical.
Who Is Affected?
According to each business, the way Pigeon impacted them changed too. Some business owners were negatively affected while the others were ranked higher in the SERPs. Sectors like education, food, and hospitality started thriving with a 10% - 30% growth in rankings with the new update, while the growth of businesses like transportation, law, medical health, spa, fitness, and shop showed less than 5% growth. The misfortune mostly fell on the sectors of jobs, movies, insurance, and real estate, with up to -70% of losses. Job and real estate were the two fields that suffered drastic rank drops. However, finance, government, and furniture sectors faced minimum losses compared to the other fields.
With these changing impacts Google Pigeon made on each different sector of business, the importance of it was debated on a large scale. Being one of the biggest updates to be ever introduced in the comprehensive history of Google, the Pigeon Algorithm update had created a lot of controversies. But Google expected the SEO professionals to adapt to the new update and mold their SEO strategies accordingly.
How To Survive The Ranking Drops?
Google pigeon being highly in favor of the users is not a secret. But the update results in drastic ranking drops for some businesses and mild drops for some others. Either way, you can survive the Pigeon algorithm update by doing on-page optimization, link building, and local SEO at an intensified level. Try to keep your phone numbers and addresses the same everywhere in the web pages, so that it would be easier for the search engine bots to track them down. Making sure this happens, the contact information like name, address, and phone number must be the same in the social media accounts and the directory listings as well.
Google Pigeon is all about collaboration, and if the information in one social account differs from the information in the directory, Google crawlers would not recognize it properly. With the Pigeon algorithm update, the contact information is better to be added in the footer of the website for easy discovery. Repair the broken links, wrong spellings, and wrong unwanted contact numbers and keep the information as accurate as possible. This way you can use the update to grow your local business sales.
Pigeon Algorithm Update: Overview
Google wanted Pigeon to alter the local search results to bear a resemblance to traditional organic search, and also to serve a similar cause. It is very hard to decipher a common pattern according to which the update affected local search results. Instead, different local businesses were impacted in different ways by Pigeon, depending on their position prior to the update. One thing that was certain about the Pigeon algorithm update was that it favored the local stores. Google did this because online users always seek a nearby business to turn to whenever they have a product or service requirement. What Pigeon does is list the search results according to geographical relevance without making the users take extra trouble in finding a business close by.
In simpler words, Google’s Pigeon algorithm update lets users find all the necessary information on a website (Directions, contact numbers, opening hours, location, etc.) in the SERP itself, which is very convenient for customers. Great though that sounds, a user who gets all the information in the results page itself would not bother to check the website out. This causes less traffic, which directly affects the ranking of the business. But Google would not remove the Pigeon update any sooner, because it is an ideal step for user convenience. As the search engine, Google’s first priority is its users. The Pigeon algorithm update summarizes a business website in the local pack, which makes things easier for the user, harder for the owner. The question remains: If Google’s Pigeon promotes your website in the SERP screen itself and if users can still see it and contact you – is it not a marketing victory? Even if your website is not clicked on, aren’t your business details still being successfully transmitted?
That is why the pros and cons of the Pigeon update are still debated upon. Either way, the update was highly beneficial for local SEO that needed a popular platform for their marketing purposes. In a market that was biased towards bigger businesses, the Pigeon update helped every local business to get in the competition despite its size and current popularity.