Pigeons have a reputation for being noisy birds that tend to congregate in a single area and poop all over everything. Google launched an algorithm update near the end of July called the Pigeon Update, and many local business owners believe it was aptly named. This update is expected to effect just a single digits worth of search results, but for that single digit, the effect has been profound. In truth, we have seen some clients have seen significant jumps. Others saw their results drop off a cliff only to rebound in the next few days. A small percentage have seen their results drop and not recover.
So What is the Pigeon Update, and Why Does it Matter?
Pigeon is an algorithm shift that is focused on “local results.” These are search queries that Google believes are meant specifically for a result in your immediate vicinity, or the immediate vicinity of the keyword you used. Examples would include restaurants, plumbers, lock-smiths, or specific store names. Often these searches are accompanied by a Google Local map with relevant businesses highlighted with “stick pins.” For these searches, Google has changed the rules. In a nut shell, proximity matters more for these searches than it did before. If you operate a law firm in Dallas and have a page so well optimized for “Fort Worth attorney” that you ranked on page one for years, you may find that your rankings fall, as law firms actually located in Fort Worth get a comparative advantage that is stronger than it was before the update.
There are a few key points to consider here. The first is that you may discover that Google considers some searches to have local intent that you would have never considered, and that you are being hindered by this update even though you are a regional or nation-wide firm. Some folks have questioned whether a firm with one office but a national marketplace would be wise to hide their location from Google. It is far from clear that this is even possible, that it could be done retroactively, or that it would even help. At this point, that is not something we would recommend. What we most certainly do recommend is taking advantage of local offices if you have a search query effected by the Pigeon Update. . If that same Dallas law firm had offices in Dallas, Fort Worth Irving and Arlington, we would STRONGLY recommend making sure that each location is properly set up In both Google Places and using the Geographic portion of the Schema code to make certain that Google gives each location the geographic boost that you can get from the Pigeon Update.
Written By: Derrick DeYarman – Director of SEO