Google’s Latest Local Search Algorithm Update: Pigeon

On July 24th, Google rolled out yet another local search algorithm, being named Pigeon by Search Engine Land. Broadly stated, this update is an attempt to improve the usefulness of local search results for local searchers. Pigeon will cause local search results to be linked more closely to traditional organic web search results. According to Search Engine Land, “Google told us the new local search algorithm ties deeper into their web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search.”

On April Fools Day 2002 Google published information about their PigeonRank (PR) – Click the picture for more info.

While this update is undoubtedly aimed at bettering the search experience for users, local SEO professionals have noticed some alarming changes to 7-pack results. For some business niches, such as DUI lawyers, 7-pack local results have disappeared entirely. For other search terms, the 7-pack has been reduced to a 3-pack. The update also seems to have helped cut down on duplication within the 7-pack when compared to organic search results – known as diversification to create combined local results.
This “Pigeon” update additionally seems to have increased the search rankings of many local directories. Top organic results for local search queries appear to display more directory-style sites; both well-known directories such as Yelp along with smaller local directories are appearing with more frequency and sometimes at higher volumes. This is especially true for some search terms, such as city-specific restaurants, where directories dominate almost the entire first page. For other terms, such as Cincinnati auto mechanic, front-page results are less dominated by directories but several directories still appear.

This development seems like it is going to give local directory listings a whole lot more juice. After all, if the front page of results for a search term is completely filled with local directories, this makes it almost essential that any business that wants to be competitive for that search term appears in those directories. At the very least, the increased amount of directory listings for a variety of search terms lets smaller local businesses remain competitive for their particular business niche. This update could actually be very beneficial to businesses that can’t otherwise afford to engage in SEO marketing on the level of their larger competitors.
If you’ve noticed any particular changes in rankings over the past few days, or have any other observations about Pigeon, please let us know!