Google Pigeon Algorithm and Its Impact on Local Search, Explained

Local SEO is anything but easy. You must be aware of all the changes that are happening and have happened in the past. Join our local SEO expert as we guide you through one of the most significant algorithm updates that Google made, impacting all of local search. It’s time to talk about Google Pigeon.

“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.”  
– Wendy Piersall

Google has always endeavored to update its local search capabilities. For doing so, it launched the Google Pigeon Algorithm Update on July 24th, 2014. 

The update did not have a name internally in Google. Search Engine Land was the one who called it ‘Pigeon’ because it was related to local search and pigeons tend to fly back home, and the name stuck.

Now, it has been more than five years after the initial deployment of the Google Pigeon Algorithm. Plus, several updates have been made to Pigeon in order to remove glitches. We’ve talked previously about how the Google Search Algorithm works in general. Now, it’s time to wind the clock back a few years and look at one of their specific algorithm updates.

The Purpose of Pigeon

Google claimed that the Google Pigeon Algorithm had the following objectives:

  1. To provide relevant, local results to the users based on the proximity. To do this, Google improved its location and distance ranking parameters.
  2. To improve the overall search experience of the user. To enable this, it made many changes like spelling corrections, synonyms, variations, Knowledge Graph, etc.
  3. To rank local businesses based on customer reviews and user content.

How did Google Pigeon Algorithm impact Local Search?

The Google Pigeon Algorithm is touted as the largest and best local search algorithm since the Venice update of 2012. For good reason, too.

Local searches underwent momentous changes after the advent of the Google Pigeon Algorithm. Google Maps and Google My Business were the main targets. There were many upheavals in the local business rankings. In fact, such there was such a shift in the local search that the times can be classified as “Before Pigeon” and “After Pigeon”.

Google Pigeon Algorithm impacted local search in a big way.

1. Demanding More Organic Web Presence

Pigeon aimed at making the local search results mirror the traditional search results (organic SERP). In doing this, it wanted the local businesses to make use of the hundreds of ranking signals that go into the algorithm to their best advantage. To achieve this, the local businesses had to have a formidable organic presence on the web to compete locally for the rankings. Thus, the Pigeon Algorithm changed the way local search was executed by giving predominance to organic search results of the local businesses.

2. Narrowing the Search Radius

The Algorithm narrowed the search radius of the local search. It improved the ability of the Google search to calculate the distance and location of the local business. Now with the Google Pigeon Algorithm, local businesses that were located closest to the physical location of the searcher were favored and ranked first. Search results became less about keywords and more about geography and location.

3. Fewer Map Pack Results

Before the launch of the Google Pigeon Algorithm, every local-oriented search resulted in acquiring at least 7-10 local business listings. After the Google Pigeon Algorithm, this Map pack reduced to just 3. This reduced pack size left many of the local businesses out of the local search and made them literally invisible.

4. Spam Proliferation

There is one glitch that still remains with the Google Pigeon Algorithm. After the launch of the Google Pigeon Algorithm, many spam listings entered the local search. This was because of the inability of the algorithm to differentiate between genuine business names and the one edited to have exact matching keywords. Unfortunately, the spam names made their way into the local search and many credible ones got left out. It should be noted that Google is working to fix this issue.

Tips to Get on the Map Pack, Even With Google Pigeon Algorithm

Google Pigeon Algorithm increased the competition among the business rankings in local search. With the map results cut down from 7 to 3, Local business listings had to meet its stringent demands to appear in the local search. It made local search more relevant and specific.

In order to get your business featured in the local search by satisfying the requirements of the Google Pigeon Algorithm, this is what you must do.

1. Focus on getting traditional organic signals for your business listing.

This can be done by building intelligent links, growing the domain authority and publishing unique web content.

2. Make the content of the listing hyperlocal

Everything must be local. Acquire local backlinks, local citations, etc. Associate the content of your local business listing like its text, images, videos, and maps to concentrate on your specific locality or neighborhood.

3. Report Spam listings

If you do not want your business listing to be left out of the local search, do report spam listings.

4. Strengthen your SEO

To appear in the 3 pack search results of Google, you must strengthen the SEO of your local business listing. To achieve this, collect favorable customer reviews on Google and remove duplicate listings.

Get your business listing featured in the local search by taking advantage of the Google Pigeon Algorithm.

A high-quality local SEO agency such as DigitalBull GO understands how the algorithm works and how to use it to your advantage. We can help you get to the Map Pack!

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