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What Does the Brand New Google Pigeon Update Mean for You?

Google Pigeon is the algorithm change that drifted under the radar. It was released on July 24, 2014, and it targets online retailers and businesses. Its primary change is altering listings for land-based stores within online directories.

On the face of it, this doesn’t sound significant enough to even warrant a blog. In this article, we’re going to explain what it really means for your business.

What are the Changes?

Most of these algorithm changes relate to how searches are run and various back end network matters, which are completely irrelevant to the end user. In terms of the front end, this algorithm is designed to boost the accuracy of local search queries.

The new algorithm expands Google’s searching abilities. Now local results will be displayed in a similar way to how standard search results are displayed. There will now be less emphasis placed on the listings found in Google Places.

As of this writing, this update only applies to US English search results, but it’s presumed Google already has plans in the works for rolling this change out for other languages. In short, this change will lead to local sites and listings receiving more visibility in the rankings.

What’s the Reasoning?

In short, we don’t know. Google has yet to speak publicly on the reasons for these changes. This hasn’t stopped various SEO gurus from coming up with reasons why they have decided to make these changes now.

They claim it all comes back to the Yelp problem. This was characterised by a decrease in the exposure of listings for directories like Yelp, due to the release of Google Places. Google saw this as a problem, leading to more inaccurate results, and so Google Pigeon is a way to change this.

Who Does it Effect?

What it does for businesses is it frees them up to use the best online directories for them. The likes of TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon no longer have to fight with the listings appearing on Google. Businesses no longer have to see Google as a threat to their ability to promote themselves through online listings.

The most significant change of all will be to traditional SEO. The boost to online directories means good SEO may become almost impossible without the help of a large network/online directory.

Tips for Success in the Post-Pigeon World


  1. Study the Listings.

All directories are prominent on Google. Look at where your traffic is coming on and focus on them. The ones that drive the most traffic to your site are the ones to stick to because all directories gain equal prominence now.

  1.  Stick with Google

Remember, Google is still the key to success. Maintain a presence on Google Places and Google+ and you’ll be able to handle the 500 algorithm changes that come into force every year. You don’t want to abandon Google just yet. 

  1.  Focus on the Big Directories

The big directories are the places that benefit the most from Pigeon. They’re only going to grow in size. When you list your business, make sure you do it with one of these growing directories. Sites like Yelp will help your business optimise its web presence as much as possible.

  1.  Speak to Your Customers

Power your listings by asking for customer reviews and recommendations over social media and through the directories themselves. Listings are pointless if they aren’t backed up by substance.

  1.  Keep Your Website Active

Your website remains the focus of your business. Keep it current and link to your listings through it. It’s vital that you continue to present yourself in the right way, or you can’t harness the power of your listings.


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