In their continuous quest to improve the effectiveness of their search algorithms, Google recently rolled out an update that focuses on local search results. Named ‘Pigeon’ by industry authority Search Engine Land, this update is perhaps one of the most relevant to date when it comes to small and medium businesses.

On the whole, Google has sought to improve the experience of consumers searching for products and services in their area with this update. Pigeon refines the accuracy of local search queries and displays results that seem to prioritize small local businesses related to given keywords, as opposed to large national brands. This appears to have had an effect on both organic search and Google Maps.

The images below illustrate this new result:

Before Pigeon:

Google's Pigeon Algorithm

After Pigeon:

Google's Pigeon Algorithm

Source: SEO Round Table

According to Google, this algorithm update “delves deeper into their web search capabilities,” combining the power of their many existing ranking signals with search features such as Knowledge Graph and spelling correction. The end result is an improved accuracy with respect to distance and location rankings.

Not only has this improved the local search results for consumers, but it has also given small to medium local businesses more exposure in surrounding areas. The shift to locally targeted relevant search results has gotten a major boost with this update.

This gives small and medium businesses even more power and increases the effectiveness of certain online marketing tactics such as content marketing and social media marketing. Large brands with a national reach have taken a hit when it comes to people searching for products and services in their own neighborhoods.
The full impact of Google’s Pigeon update has yet to be determined, especially for each specific industry, but certain changes are already apparent. It has been shown, for example, that that this update causes web design companies to appear in local results:

Google's Pigeon Algorithm

By improving local search results, Pigeon is the latest algorithmic update to combat spammy tactics in search engine optimization. This is in line with Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, which were focused on improving the quality of website content. This will have the net effect of increasing the quality and authority of local search results, the vast majority of which are made up of small to medium businesses.

So far, Pigeon only applies to English content, and there is no word from Google regarding any plans to apply it to other languages as of yet. What does this mean for business owners? Now is the time to invest heavily in search engine optimization strategies to improve your website’s ranking. With the Google Pigeon update, traditional search engine optimization factors are more significant than ever. These include:

  • Your website’s authority on the internet
  • Quality backlinks to your site
  • On-page website optimization
  • Rich, updated and relevant content

Needless to say, this is a huge opportunity for small and medium businesses to capture a lot more local traffic in their area. With increased emphasis on tried-and-tested strategies like content marketing and local search engine optimization, the smart business owner is poised to reap many rewards.

With Google Pigeon, business owners can now build the perfect website to attract local traffic. A well-optimized website with relevant, targeted content will have an even greater impact on local results, and put your business on the map like never before. This means that local SEO is the new gold rush: it’s an online marketing strategy that simply cannot be ignored any longer.