Google Pigeon update: what does it mean for local search results?

Google Pigeon update: what does it mean for local search results?

In July 2014, Google rolled out a new algorithm update: Google Pigeon. This update has an impact on local search results. Since the majority of companies and organizations operate to a certain extent at a local (or otherwise regional) level, the Google Pigeon Update is relevant for almost everyone. What is Google Pigeon and what does it mean for local search results?

Google Pigeon update

What is the Google Pigeon update?

First of all it is good to know what the Pigeon update is. Google Pigeon is a major update to Google's algorithms. Major updates like this often have a significant impact on the search results . This often causes considerable shifts in the SERPs . The cards are shuffled considerably in these situations. The first results from the United States already gave an indication, more about that later. First we look at the reason for this update.

Why this update?

We do not know exactly why this adjustment is applied in the algorithm. In a general sense, you can say that Google always wants to provide the most relevant search results to its users. That is why they regularly adjust the algorithms. 10 years ago you expected completely different search results when you searched for "driving school" than now. And then the website of another driving school was more relevant than now. There are various reasons for this, of which you can already come up with a large number yourself.

As far as I'm concerned, the user experience of the website is very important:

Does the website load fast enough?
Does the website meet today's standards?
Does the website work well enough on mobile?
The name does not come from Google itself
Pigeon is not even the official name. Because the search engine itself does not give names to updates (anymore), Search Engine Land has given this name to it . Barry Schwartz, responsible for news gathering at Search Engine Land, was the first to release the news on July 25, 2014:

What impact does the Pigeon update have on search results?

The effect of the Pigeon Update affects the local search results as indicated. The bottom line is that Google combines its own capabilities and uses them better for searches. This concerns things like synonyms and spelling correction.

The impact after the rollout of the update in the US was:

The directory sites score better in local search results; Yelp is mentioned as the most prominent example
Fewer views of the  Local Packs  in the search results
A slight increase in the display of the  Knowledge Panel
Furthermore, the number of entries with multiple locations in the carousel decreased . Those carousel views in the search results were only shown in the US until the end of 2014. In November 2014 , Google also rolled out the carousel in the Netherlands . A virtual carousel of companies was displayed at the top of the search results, through which you could browse:

This carousel with hotels has since disappeared. You can still have a carousel with famous people or with brands or companies appear. You don't just get to see it, you have to do something extra for that. In the link to the article, which you will find above, you can read how that carousel appears in your search results.

More accurate local search results

One of the most important effects of the Pigeon update is that the local search results became more accurate based on the location of the search engine user. As a user, you get to see companies that are really close to you. You probably noticed that nowadays you see companies in your Local Pack that are really close to your location. You often see companies within a radius of a few hundred meters, plus a single one a little further away.

What is ultimately important for your findability?

Ultimately, the question is what is important for your findability after the Google Pigeon update. In any case, as with every update, you don't have to worry if you always put your visitor first. In such a case , an algorithm update will not easily turn out negative , rather positive. An important effect of the Pigeon update is that fewer companies entered the Local Pack: 3 instead of 7 or even 10 . This effect did not follow until a year after the roll-out of the algorithm update. What you can mainly conclude from this is that you have to improve everything around your local findability . In brief:

Get a good, complete Google My Business profile and keep it up to date
Ensure consistent listings on company directories (citations)
Get reviews, both on your Google My Business and on other platforms
So make sure that your company builds a good reputation with sufficiently consistent statements and reviews.

The adverse effect of Google Pigeon

The review websites such as Yelp got a boost in the US. Because we know less of such websites in the Netherlands, the adverse effect is smaller than in the US. Especially for the hospitality industry there is a danger of being overtaken by guides such as Yelp, The Fork (formerly Iens) and Tripadvisor. So make sure you have a good website, good local listings and as many reviews as possible on both Google My Business and other platforms. Everything for a reliable online profile.

Do you have questions or comments about the Google Pigeon update?

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