When Googles' new Pigeon update was released on the 24th July it was met by mixed reactions with some experts saying that the results would be beneficial to them and others stating that they would not. Not much is known of the actual changes that this update will bring as the details are being kept largely secret but the fact that Google has mentioned it means that it is a significant update.
With the update Google has moved to improve the distance and location ranking parameters and delve deeper into web search capabilities through the use of search features like Knowledge Graphs, a massive collection of real life topics and their connections, spelling correction and more.
A greater emphasis has been placed on the searcher's location in search engine results pages and this is one of many developments that this update has brought about. This improved focus will lead to more organic local results being shown, resulting in more useful, relevant and accurate local search results being provided. An example below shows how the results of a search for "ice cream" have developed with the introduced of the Pigeon update.
Before the update was introduced the search gave some general results which were not necessarily local or relevant for the searcher as they were not in close proximity to the searchers current location. The search results given before the update are shown below.
After the update was implemented much more localised results are given, highlighting how the distance and location parameters have been improved and how Google have switched their focus to providing more relevant, local search results.
However, it has also been noted that local directory sites have been getting increased visibility and on occasion have been appearing above individual locations such as restaurants and hotels. A search for "London Hotels" brings back a list containing solely directory style pages in the organic results (shown below), with individual hotels not appearing until the second page of search results. These include URL's from Expedia, londontown, travelsupermarket, hoteldirect and lastminute.com.
Additionally, the update is known to have also fixed a problem with yelp results appearing below results for Google+ and other pages, even if the user specifically included "yelp" in their search query. The results will now show yelp results above all other results, when "yelp" has been included in the search query, including the websites and pages of the restaurant or establishment itself (when "Da Vinci's Restaurant yelp" is searched, for example).
Thus, it isn't clear whether the new update will increase or decrease web site referrals for businesses in general. What is clear is that Google has taken a big step towards providing more relevant, local search results and has also boosted the visibility of local directory in search results as a result of this update.
Finally, Google has altered the way we carry out search, changing the way we see local results and how we use directory based sites to find the information we require. As a result of this some small businesses will benefit significantly from now being placed on localised results due to becoming more prevalent in the carousel and in Google and Google Maps search results, due to them being based in close proximity to the searcher's location. Other, larger business may get pushed out of search results due to the increased visibility of directory based sites, affecting their performance as a result of the new Pigeon update.
To find about more about search and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for you and your business give Frank a call on +44 20 7097 8906. Frank is the founder of Orchid Box, an online marketing company based in London.