July 24th, Google released another local search update that has impacted local results. This update is being called Google Pigeon. This update seems to be pretty significant, although it is still very early to tell the actual impact that this has caused local businesses, but it’s definitely something to be monitoring for the next few weeks.
What the SEO Experts Are Saying
According to the article from Search Engine Land, experts are weighing in on what they’ve seen so far with this update. To summarize, this update is amplifying the Hummingbird update which occurred last fall. Arguably, this update is creating a better experience for searchers. Or at least, that’s what Google’s attempting to do.
You will notice when you search for a local business, a lot of big directories show up in the search results (Yelp, Yellowpages, etc.). This is only increasing with this update, which is why this is arguably a better solution. This pushes local, Google verified, businesses down in the SERPs.
Another big thing that marketers are noticing with this update is the loss the of the 7-pack results. It now seems to change to 3-pack results. This leads us marketers to believe this update was geared to combine desktop and mobile search results. The reasoning behind this change would be because Google wants to limit the amount of local results for mobile users since it’s strictly geared to their location. They don’t want 1,000 realtors to show up when searching for a local realtor. Makes sense.
Here’s what the search results looked like before and during the update.
Below are visuals for the term “tacos” location in Costa Mesa:
You can see how the results are slowly changing. Let’s take a look at the local pack changes.
When searching for chiropractor Rochester MI, the results haven’t changed much. You can see the pack is still visible here which is good for those local businesses:
However, when you change chiropractor to realtor, you can see the local results change very dramatically:
You can see that there aren’t any local business in the results, but only directories like realtor.com. Which leads us to believe that this update is targeting specific industries that Google thinks is spammy.
Who’s Been Affected?
According to Search Engine Land, spammy industries that have been negatively affected and actually first noticed this change are realtors and DUI lawyers. It seems that these verticals have been removed from the pack (see above images). This means the search results are being saturated with directories instead of actual realtors or lawyers.
Large directories like Yelp and Tripadvisor have had slight increases in traffic since these directories are ranking higher than local businesses. Yelp obviously dominating local search for a while now. If you’re not listed on Yelp with a strong reputation, it might be a good time to start.
The question is, how will this affect other industries across the board? We’re going to have to do some real analyzing during the next several weeks to really get dialed in in the potential positive and negative affects this is going to have on all local businesses.
A lot of questions are going to arise with this new local update. Like, “Will these local updates continue to influence directories instead of local businesses?”. If so, “How effective are local citations going to be in the future?”.
Those two primary questions came to mind after seeing the new search results. It seems that Google is continuing to make the pack smaller which doesn’t leverage as much organic visibility for local businesses. Unless, they’re on the large directories and have a strong presence there like Yelp.
In our opinion, we think marketers should not forget about citations, instead focus more on the bigger directories and building a strong presence there; such as Yelp, Tripadvisor, Google+, etc. It wouldn’t hurt to try.
What are your findings with this Pigeon algorithm update? We’d love to hear what others have experienced so far. Let us know in the comments or email us!