What Does Google's New 'Pigeon' Update Mean for You?

At the end of July 2014, Google released a changed algorithm to their search engine. The aim of the update was to provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results. Widely speaking, the update is a successful one and enhances Google’s already impressive search engine. However, the update has changed the ranking system on which the results of a search are based and this may have caused your website to have experienced a drop in traffic. Luckily there are some steps you can take to ensure you get the exposure that you need.

Loss of local listing packs

One of the major changes that the Pigeon update has introduced is a large reduction in what are known as local listing packs. The local listing packs appear at the bottom of the search results or on the right hand side of the results and include local businesses and attractions, with ratings and comments by the public. After Google introduced the update the amount of local listing packs dropped from around 12% to 3%, which represents a substantial fall. If your website has experienced a drop in traffic since the update, this may well be the cause. In the short run you could introduce a PPC (pay per click) campaign to bolster your traffic, while a long term solution could be to focus on getting Web search listings for those keywords.

Local carousal remains unaffected

While local listing packs have been affected quite heavily, the Pigeon update has had very little effect on the local carousal results. The carousal appears at the top of the screen after a search and is a great way to gain exposure for some local keywords. It also places heavy emphasis on your businesses ratings and image. The fact that the sites are listed side by side with an accompanying image means that your image is vitally important, so make sure that you have uploaded a high definition image that showcases your business as you would want to see it.

Website authority

Another change which Pigeon has introduced is that local rankings depend more on website authority. Values are based on and determined by; domain authority, backlinks and other search engine optimization (SEO) factors. Your business website might have lost traffic because it has fallen behind that of your competitors in these fields. If this is the case you should engage in thorough research to understand how your website ranks in these different fields and how you can improve it.


Following the update, local directory sites have seen a massive increase in Internet traffic. For certain searches the entire search engine results page is composed from well-known directory sites. Although fewer people may be able to access your website directly, it is critical to build a presence on local directories which could maintain your much needed external interest and exposure. Be sure that your business is listed in the most influential directories in your area to ensure that you do not miss out on traffic.

General tips

Although the Pigeon update has changed the search engine results page substantially, the principles of decent exposure through the use of the Internet remain pretty similar. The following general SEO tips can beat the Pigeon:

  • Be sure your Google+ account is categorised correctly with the correct area code.
  • Make sure your business name, address and phone numbers are all consistent in the local directories where your business is listed.
  • Encourage customers to rate and review your business.

Google’s Pigeon update hasn’t exactly reinvented the SEO wheel but it cannot be denied that it has had a substantial impact on search rankings.

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