Happy New Year from Google – here is a Pigeon!


Whilst we were busy preparing for Christmas and the traditional Aussie Holiday break by the beach (check out our favourite holiday spots for relaxing — see picture above), Google was busy rolling out their latest algorithm update – Pigeon, here in Australia, the UK and Canada.  It may be something about Christmas as they had already rolled it out in the US on July 24th – and we know how they love a Christmas in July!

Like other algorithm updates, the Pigeon update had quite an impact on not just search engine results, but local search results as well. Due to the Pigeon update, Google web searches and map searches are now more clearly connected to each other, thus showing more similar results.  This may have also been due to the backlash from directories like Yelp who had previously cried foul and provoked Google with claims of anti competition.  Others claim it is all about pushing advertisers to Adwords due to geographical limitations.

This is considered to be a big change as Google web search results were often quite different to Google map search results. Another one of the the most significant Pigeon changes that had SEO specialists in the US scrambling to pick up their rankings was the loss of local map results. The local map results, otherwise known as the ‘7 Pack Results’ were essential for local listing or boosting local search rankings.  Many anomalies and spam implications are still being debated on forums globally and some even espouse a rollback of some description so stay tuned. I imagine it may take months for the dust to settle here.

Here are some of the Pigeon manifestations that have affected Australian businesses in January:

  • 7 Pack Results were less focused on Google My Business, Google+ or other such Google listing pages, and were featuring businesses who had actual websites or webpages.
  • More attention and exposure was given to businesses who have listed on popular local online directories such as Yelp, Yellow Pages and TrueLocal. In particular those with reviews.
  • Businesses who have clearly put an effort into their website were rewarded with better search rankings, especially for local search rankings.
  • Google is now highly focused on location or proximity competition. Depending on a user’s search intent, Google is more likely to show search results of businesses closest to the user. Although Google was said to already be doing so, according the www.searchengineland.com, the Pigeon update has significantly improved their accuracy.

As Pigeon is still rolling out in Australia, we can expect a lot more to change over the next few weeks or months. Due to our internal process and as usual, our clients are rewarded by these changes as we are fastidious in following best practice white hat techniques and ethical, responsible SEO. Yay for the good guys!

However, we can’t be complacent! As the roll out continues, we have to continue to be vigilant about our rankings and brace ourselves for any sudden drops or shuffles. All of our clients need to be aware of the need for constant site maintenance and as usual fresh, relevant content and a great user experience is paramount.



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