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Google Pigeon II: the Re-Pigeoning

Posted On: November 6, 2014

Okay, fine. You try to come up with a better sequel name. (If we ever get to Pigeon III, that has to be in 3-D, right?)

We devoted plenty of time last month to Google Pigeon, and for good reason: Every time Google comes out with a new/revised algorithm, it creates shockwaves throughout the world of Search, particularly (of late) Local Search.

You simply can’t develop a workable SEO strategy without some understanding of how Google ranks the value and authority of websites for local businesses, no matter how hard Google works to keep that understanding close to the vest.

So now that we’ve had another month to analyze the ramifications of Google Pigeon, here’s some more information—some new, some confirming what’s been previously reported—on how the new Google algorithm, affects local businesses:

Reduced search radius

In most cases, albeit not in all, Google reduced the search radius for local listings. In other words, Google is getting more hyperlocal, figuring that searchers don’t want “local” results that are many miles away.

For example, if someone is searching for local restaurants and your restaurant in that neighborhood or an adjacent one, you might well not appear in those search results.

Outside of opening a new location in that neighborhood, you have some options to deal with this development. The simplest is to determine which geographic areas your business does show up in and emphasize those. You can also try to focus on less competitive categorical searches where you can compete to get more visibility.

In some situations, your business still might be showing up in search results for that radius, but it’s not ranking as well as it did previously to the Pigeon update.

In this case, you need to focus on the SEO fundamentals to ensure you’re providing Google what it wants to rank your site well. Work to become more citation-worthy in your market, giving Google reason to pump up your search ranking there.

Spam is more prevalent

One downside of the Pigeon update is that spam listings—ones that obviously violate Google’s local listing quality guidelines—are showing up far more prevalently.

Google’s earlier tweaks had eliminated many of these listings, but now they’re back in force. They’re not just showing up again; in some cases, they’re being rewarded with great rankings, particularly in local results.

This is undoubtedly an unintended result of the new algorithm, and you can be sure Google is working to fix it. Google’s focus over the past few years has been spam reduction, so it can’t be happy that something got mucked up in the process.

The issues will get worked out, and probably sooner rather than later. In the interim, don’t take this development as an invitation that you should spam too. That’s sure to blow up in your face. If you’re seeing spam in local search engine results pages (SERPs), report it.

Stay calm and see what shakes out

That might not seem like the most dynamic piece of advice, but it’s possibly the most important one to understand. Pigeon is in a state of flux, and exactly how it’s affecting sites and rankings won’t be clear for some time.

We’re seeing lots of changes in local SERPs on virtually a daily basis. Making big changes to your tactics while so much remains fluid is a bad strategy. Stick with the fundamentals of solid white-hat SEO strategy; your Ring Ring Marketing representative is always happy to help your with that.

Ultimately, whatever changes Google makes to Local Search, the tried-and-true approaches will win out: Work to populate your site with high-quality content that commands authority in your industry. Generate citations and high-quality local links. Make sure your site doesn’t have any technical glitches. Be certain—and we mean certain—that your Google My Business page is complete and accurate.

When you focus on these local SEO essentials, you’ll be fine no matter what shakes out with Pigeon.

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