Google’s Pigeon Update Explained and Local SEO Strategies

Like a homing pigeon is known for finding its way home, Google’s Pigeon algorithm update was designed to provide users with relevant query results close to home. The pigeon was revolutionary and loved by local businesses, with good SEO practices at its debut. For the first time, Google’s algorithm made it so that local searches had the opportunity to shine, ranking higher than other non-local competition. Below, we tell you everything you need to know about Pigeon: what it is, how it works, and how to adjust your SEO so that you can perform the update to your advantage.

Launch Date: July 24, 2014

With the rollout of Pigeon, Google was able to provide more useful, relevant, and accurate local search results to its users. Building on the Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird algorithm updates, Pigeon’s focus is specifically on local queries. Unlike Panda and Penguin, Pigeon is not a penalty-based update but is a core change to Google’s algorithm.

What Google Pigeon Impacted

Though Pigeon isn’t penalty-based, it’s still vital that you know how the update affects Google’s web crawlers and what you need to implement to rank as high as possible, primarily if local patrons fuel the lifeblood of your business.

Poor On-Page SEO

Penguin’s new local search algorithm is now closely tied to traditional search ranking signals. In other words, your site needs to be as authoritative as possible and have good SEO E-A-T. Don’t skimp on SEO strategies when building your site.

Poor Off-Page SEO

Your site isn’t the only place on the web you need to be monitoring to get high local rankings. If you don’t have your business listed in online directories like Yelp, Trip Advisor, OpenTable, or the like, Pigeon can count it against you, and your rankings will be lower than your competition.

How The Pigeon Algorithm Works

Google’s Pigeon update affects local searches and those searches where location plays an important role. However, unlike before Pigeon’s release, traditional SEO factors come into play when ranking local results. So local companies now have to invest more energy and resources into their SEO strategies on their site and other online locations—specifically business directory sites.

One of Pigeon’s most obvious notable results was the decrease in Google’s local results “pack.” Initially, these packs were seven local businesses that would result from a search. Pigeon reduced that number from 7 to just three listings beginning in 2015, about a year after it was implemented.

Additionally, Pigeon causes Google to consider businesses with a location and distance most relevant to the user. Brighter than ever, Google’s core algorithm alters the local listings in the search results and gives the top spots to local directory sites.

How to Update Your Local SEO To Take Advantage of Google Pigeon

Pigeon is an excellent update for local businesses—if you know how to SEO. You can tweak a few things on your site to ensure you achieve the highest possible ranking, snagging a spot in the coveted 3-pack local results.

Emphasize traditional SEO

Do the old-fashioned hard work of traditional SEO. Build links, publish content that goes above and beyond to give your users the best information, and utilize keywords your target audience is searching for.

Focus on the city or region-specific content

Create images, videos, or written content that associates you with a specific area, city, state, or region. This will strengthen your authority on local searches.

Publish in local directories

Local directories, like Yelp, OpenTable, Four Square, and the like, are where people go to get reviews of the place places to shop, eat, and stay local—plus more. These sites are enormous in driving business to your site, but they help legitimize you in the eyes of Google’s crawlers. The more places like these that you publish your information on, the more authority and legitimacy your site will have, and the higher it will rank on local searches.

Please register for a Google My Business page

Chances are, you have a Google My Business page, even if you don’t remember signing up for it. Google My Business indexes your business’s information to be consistent across Google Search, Maps, and more. Then, once you’ve got your page, optimize it so that Google has all the info it needs to see that you’re a legitimate local business. 

Conclusion: Pigeon is Your Local Guide

When conducting a local search, the Pigeon update ensures you get results most relevant to you right where you’re at during the investigation. Working off the last three algorithm updates, Google created Pigeon to give you the local search results you want: they’re nuanced, legitimate results—not spam— that are physically near you. For searchers and local businesses alike, Pigeon provides an excellent experience for Google’s users.

Additional Google Update Resources