We all know how much Google loves its zoo of algorithm updates—Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird—so when the search engine decided to leave its latest update nameless, the folks at Search Engine Land stepped in and christened the update Pigeon. With so many interesting animals to choose from (the lemur, the mongoose, the alpaca . . .), why did they go with Pigeon? Because pigeons fly home and this latest algorithm update is improving upon local search results. So exactly what can we expect from the Google Pigeon update? Scroll down to find out.
Google Pigeon Update
Let’s get straight to the point. What’s changed?
Local search results have improved. They are more relevant, useful, and precise, and they are visible in both Google Web search results and Google Maps. Local businesses may notice a change in their web traffic, referrals, and sales due to Pigeon’s influence (hopefully beneficial but quite possibly detrimental). Google hasn’t presented any numbers, however, so it’s impossible to say just how many queries were effected.
The Google Pigeon update has also fixed Google’s “Yelp problem.” The search engine has been accused in the past of manipulating search results to put its own listings above that of Yelp, a popular review site, even when searchers included “yelp” in their queries. However, now that Pigeon has flown in, queries that include “yelp” almost always yield a Yelp webpage at the top of the search results. TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and Urbanspoon are similarly benefitting from this update.
Is that all?
Well, you might notice that there are fewer duplicates within your search results and a smaller searching radius. More significantly, the 7-pack has been shrinking and listing fewer results (according to MozCast, the 7-pack has declined by 60%), and one-box results have increased.
What is causing these changes?
According to Google, this local search update connects to Google’s web search capabilities in a deeper, more meaningful way. Local results are being tied more closely to ranking signals, and search features that improve upon accuracy (like synonyms, spelling correction, and Knowledge Graph) are being employed as well. The Google Pigeon update has also enhanced distance and local ranking parameters.
Has the Google Pigeon update been put into action worldwide?
Not yet. At the moment, it only works on US English search results. We don’t know when it will be expanded to include other countries and languages.
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So keep an eye on this Pigeon! Although he’s only just taken flight, the update’s impacts on local search results have been dramatic so far: more relevant and useful search results, benefits to review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, a smaller 7-pack, and an increase in one-box results. Keep your eyes on the sky and watch for further updates.
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