It’s not an official name but it’s a clever one.

Until it’s officially renamed Google Pigeon will be the codename for Google’s latest algorithm update which focuses entirely on local search.The search community, in keeping with Google’s animal-based algorithm names, have called the latest update Google Pigeon.

Until it’s officially renamed Google Pigeon will be the codename for Google’s latest algorithm update which focuses entirely on local search.

Webmasters have noticed a lot of fluctuations with local rankings since the launch of Pigeon. So..

Will this algorithm help smaller sites compete against larger brands in local search results?

Is this the algorithm SMEs have been waiting for Google to release?

Read on to find out..

Pigeon takes flight

An algorithm based around boosting local search results only underlines that the future is local, especially where Google is concerned.

So how does Pigeon work and what does it focus on?

We’ll have a clearer idea over the next couple of weeks but Pigeon has already had a positive impact on local directories in Google, giving them greater visibility in search results.

That includes local directories such as Yelp and others, as well as local content (including restaurant reviews) written on high-authority websites and blogs. Review websites such as OpenTable and TripAdvisor are also seeing more exposure.

Though the signals Pigeon is giving out are very locally-focused it could be a mixed bag for local websites.

Yelp, after all, complained a while ago that its results were being marginalised for Google’s benefit a while back. Pigeon solves that problem and has given Yelp and other directories more exposure.

But what does that mean for small businesses with websites?

How do you think Google Pigeon will affect local search habits? Have you seen any changes in your search results? Let me know in the comments section below.

The game changes again

Local directories (the good ones, anyway) typically have strong SEO signals and lots of authority. Sites like Yelp incorporate lots of user reviews, for instance, which are great for local authority – something which Kia and other brands are using to their advantage.

But for the new or young site, or the site with little-to-no SEO work… Early indications are that directory sites and others may outrank the business itself.

Let’s take a small-but-popular restaurant as an example. Somebody’s gone to a directory to give it a good review, and it’s caught the eye of the Times newspaper which has given it a thumbs-up.

 

How to optimise for Google Pigeon.

Our restaurant isn’t too web-savvy. Although it’s got good reviews, its own website will likely be pushed down the rankings thanks to Pigeon giving greater credence to local directories.

Similar search research has recently shown that, since the post-Pigeon roll out, directories are appearing higher than websites for basic local search terms.

The alarmist reaction to take is that local search is going to become much harder for brands and smaller businesses, but why on earth would Google release a local search algorithm that’s of the detriment to local businesses?

It’s those types of short-term views that convince people SEO is dead. Nonsense – if Pigeon proves anything it’s that SEO is alive and kicking!

I wrote a while back that as long as search engines exist then some form of optimisation will have to take place for websites to benefit in search results.

With Pigeon changing the game again, this is one of those times.

Which online marketing channels have given you the most success in your local search campaigns? Let me know below!

Tips to optimise for Google Pigeon

While the game may have changed the tactics really haven’t. There are measures you can put in place right now to help with your local optimisation practices, including:

Google My Business

Google My Business is the replacement for Google Places and makes local brand management on the world’s most popular search engine easier than ever before.

Google My Business condenses Google Places management, review management, social and more into a whole new service, and lets business owners take more control of how they’re displayed by the search giant.

Make use of local directories

Though link building gets a bum rap it’s still a highly essential part of SEO if done correctly. That Google is giving more weight to local directories such as Yelp is proof that it’s worth being part of those websites.

Sites like Yelp incorporate lots of user reviews.

Join the likes of Yelp, Yell, Thomson and other directories to help local users find your services. Join in the discussion and encourage discussions with users on those sites, and enter your site into relevant industry directories instead of poor-quality, harmful ones.

Reclaim links for a local boost

I wrote about link reclamation recently and how best to perform the practice for the benefit of your website. Take the above example, where a newspaper is now ranking higher than a restaurant for a review it’s written.

Get in touch with people that have written content about your business and try to reclaim those links to use that authority to give yourself a rankings boost.

Local bloggers and influencers

On the other hand, and if no-one is writing about your business, then build relationships with local bloggers and other media influencers with a PR campaign to try and get word of your business into the community.

Invite them to events, alert them of your latest special offers and incentives with a PR push, collaborate with other businesses in the area, and more to generate interest.

Create your own content

The beauty of being a local business is that it’s in the heart of the community. That’s fantastic for when you want to start producing creative content for your website that focuses on your local business and the community at large.

Creative content is a great boost to any website, and helps to attract local people that have an interest in your business. Pairing it with a strong social strategy can help boost traffic, rankings, and interest in your company over time.

 

If you’d like to learn more about how local search marketing can improve your website’s exposure contact the Webpresence team today!