Another Google update – this time the Pigeon update – was officially rolled out on July 24, and with a new roll out comes a new set of questions. The main question being, “How does this affect me and my business?” Since we are still early in the process of evaluating the new update, we will tell you what we know based on one week’s worth of data.
The main crux of the Pigeon update is that there have been changes to the local search ranking algorithm that Google uses. One way in which this has played out is that local listing packs have fluctuated since the new update. On July 24, the percentage of queries that returned a local pack listing was at 11.2%. That percentage dropped as low as 2.5% on July 26 and July 28, but has since rebounded to just above 9%. The graph below from MozCast shows this representation throughout most of July. We’ll be keeping an eye on this to see at what percentage the graph levels out.
Another key change is that local directories have come to be more powerful than ever before. A few of those local directories that are likely to benefit greatly are TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Urbanspoon. It would be advisable to make sure that your business is listed and optimized in the local directories that most pertain to your industry. One excellent directory to be a part of if you own an inn is Select Registry, which allows members to join only after passing rigorous quality assurance testing.
The carousel that sometimes shows up at the top of a search engine results page (SERP) has seemingly been unaffected so far. In order to help your cause in showing up in the carousel, make sure you have a high-quality photo in your Google+ business profile and seek out five-star customer reviews.
One other key way to help your local search rankings is to have an optimized Google+ Local page. Make sure you have just one Google+ Local page, make sure it is properly categorized, and list a phone number with your local area code instead of a toll-free number.
The best news of this update is that if you’ve been abiding by SEO best practices, you shouldn’t be negatively affected by the update. This would mean that you have a solid content marketing strategy in place that uses blogging as a key part of that strategy. Again, it’s still early in the process to judge the overall effect of the Google Pigeon update, but, as always, we’ll be keeping our eyes on the progress and making sure that our customers are being treated well by the ever-changing Google algorithm.