New Google Update: Pigeon

A few days ago Google pushed out a new and major algo update for local search (which industry’s leading SEO resource “Search Engine Land” called “Pigeon” update). There aren’t many details disclosed about the so-called Pigeon yet, but webmasters report considerable changes in their local rankings over the past few days. To make sure you’ve got all the freshest information at your fingertips, we’ve put up this short compilation to explain what “Pigeon” is, how it affects your rankings and how to adapt your SEO strategy for the changes.

So, what do we know about the “Pigeon”?

Google confirmed that the update started to roll out on July 24 for US English results, and it’s not yet known when the update would roll out more widely in other countries and languages. The aim of the update is to provide a more useful, relevant and accurate local search results. And unlike Penguin and Panda updates, this is not a penalty-based update (aimed at cleaning the SERPs from low-quality content), but a core change to the local search ranking algorithm. Now, to give you a better idea of the update, we’ve tried to outline all the changes going on (both those claimed by Google and noticed by webmasters) and give some advice for website owners who’ve been affected.

1. Local listing packs disappear for a huge number of keywords

What’s happening?  One of the key changes seen after the update is a drastically lower number of queries that now include a local listing pack on their SERPs.

Pigeon Update

According to SERP feature graph by MOZ Cast, this number falls from 12,1% of queries on July 23rd to only 3,3% on July 27th.

SERP Feature

What should you do?  If over the past few days your website has encountered a traffic drop, this may well be due to the disappearance of certain of your local listings. If that is the case, in the short run you may need to cover the traffic losses with a PPC campaign, and in the long run — focus on getting Web search listings for those keywords.

Tip: Re-check your rankings with Rank Tracker using the Universal search results tracking feature (go to Preferences -> Rank Checking Mode and mark the Use Universal search Results checkbox) Now switch to History Records tab — you can instantly see if local listings have disappeared from the SERP.

Pigeon Update

2. Local rankings are expected to depend more on website authority
What’s happening?  The new local search algorithm is said to be more tied with the traditional Web search ranking signals. Simply speaking, this may mean that local rankings will now be more determined by domain authority, backlinks and all kinds of other SEO rankings factors. What should you do?  If your local rankings have suddenly dropped over the past few days, this may mean your site’s general SEO characteristics lack behind those of your competition. Run a thorough competition research to see how your backlinks, content and other SEO characteristics stand to those of other high ranking websites. For step-by-step SEO, instructions check out the SEO book.
3. Ranking boost is seen for Yelp and other local directories.

What’s happening?  According to the first post-update researches, Yelp and other local directory sites have seen a considerable boost in rankings. For some queries, the entire SERP is built from well-known local directories only. What should you do?  Even if less of your potential clients may now be able to find your biz website, many more of them can find you via local directory sites. This makes it crucial to build a solid business presence on leading local directories in your industry.

1. Find the most influential local directories in your niche

See which directories are currently ranking high for your targeted keywords after the update.

Tip: In Rank Tracker you’ll find top-10 ranking websites for each of your keywords in the Keyword Difficulty table: Now switch to History Records tab — you can instantly see if local listings have disappeared from the SERP.

2. Make sure your business is listed in each of these directories.

Submit your business to those directories, that are currently ranking high for your keyword, but don’t list your business yet. You can also check out this list of “Best local citations by category” for more local directories ideas.

3. Track how rankings change for your different listings.

This way you always know which of the listings should be your priority in terms of freshest data, biggest number of reviews and so on.

Tip: Add all your business listings to Rank Tracker projects as competitors — this way you can conveniently track their rankings side by side with your main website.

4. Local carousel remains a way to gain extra exposure.
What’s happening?  Unlike the usual local listing packs, local carousel results remain unaffected by the update and show up with almost the same frequency as before. This means they can still be a great way to gain extra exposure for some local keywords (though carousel listings a present for just 1% of keywords queries.) What should you do?  Carousel results put a heavy emphasis on your listing’s image and rating, while showing all options side-by-side. So make sure to put a nice, high-quality and attractive photo in your Google+ business profile and encourage your customers to review your business. This article has been first published on Full Details of this full article>

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