Google Pigeon Update seeks to reward companies for excellent local search

Google Pidgeon Update
Google’s newest update promises better local search results for the average user – and more headaches for bad SEOs

For the last few years, Google has made a real effort to optimize the experience for each and every searcher. In the SEO industry, if you haven’t been tracking rankings in specific geographic areas, you have been woefully behind the times.  Google created yet another big update during the past weekend – this one nicknamed “Pigeon”.

While the “Pigeon” name didn’t officially come from Google, instead, it came from Search Engine Land, it stuck in a major way among SEOs because of its emphasis on local search rankings as well as pigeons’ tendency to ‘fly back home.’

Official word from Google said the update affected the algorithm’s distance and location ranking parameters. In English, that means that local search referrals went up or down depending on the quality of the website. Because of this, the update could have major effects on local businesses.

So what did it do to my business?

Beyond the name, what does this update mean? Well, it could mean a lot. The biggest effect that the update had on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) is that sites like Yelp and local directories have been tremendously pushed up in the rankings. Thanks to this fact, Online Reputation Management is even more important than ever.

Prior to this particular update, you could almost see the writing on the wall as Google had already worked to emulate its own Google+/Google My Business reviews directly into the Knowledge Graph. Now, with Google reviews on the Knowledge Graph taking up about 33% of the right side on the screen, and Yelp reviews almost guaranteed to appear above the fold, a business’s online reputation is more important than ever.

Online Reputation
All highlighted areas on this screenshot have been aggregated from Online Reputation Sites, in this case, Google Reviews, Yelp and DealerRater

Of course, the update hasn’t been without its issues. Like any piece of code, it’s going to have problems, such as Expedia.com temporarily becoming a New York City Hotel. However, Google’s dev team has been diligently working to correct any issues.

While there hasn’t been any official announcement on just how many sites have been affected by the Google Pigeon Update, its potential effect on local businesses like car dealerships cannot be ignored. The update has made online reputation more important than ever, and having a robust local presence is something that every SEO must now have on his or her mind.

Dan Patrick is the Digital Media Group Manager at Dealer Product Services. He also served as a SEO Analyst and Copywriter at Walgreens, CouponCabin, and LocalLaunch! Prior to his career in Search Engine Optimization, Dan was an award-winning newspaper and magazine journalist in the Chicagoland area. In his personal life, Dan is a major automotive enthusiast, having attended major events including the Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and the Indianapolis 500. Thus far, he has attended major events for Indycar, NASCAR, NHRA, TUSCC, ALMS, GRAND-AM, TRANS-AM, and more.

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