Google’s Pigeon update in plain terms


After Panda and Penguin, the newest Google algorithm update (dubbed “Pigeon” by Search Engine Land) has flown over to the UK after its beginnings in the US last summer.

But what sort of impact will it have on businesses?

What is the Pigeon update?

The Pigeon update is Google’s way of giving a helping hand to small, local businesses who struggle to compete with national organisations in search engine rankings.

Why is it needed?

Normally, a website’s search engine ranking is the result of lots of different factors, including social reach (the total number of people who can be reached through a company’s social media accounts) and social proof (the positive influence created by people’s interaction with and response to a company).

However, this can unfairly impact on small businesses which can’t compete with the online content production, social media followers and overall impact of national businesses.

What does it mean for customers?

The update is also designed to help customers find quality, local results. For example, prior to the update, a search for “auto repair Bristol” would likely generate a national chain as the top result. This is because the chain would have the most social shares, best content and best-designed website. However, because the search was specified as local, the customer will likely not be looking for a national company, so the top result isn’t very helpful to them.

So, what’s changed?

Instead of emphasising broad factors which influence search engine results (such as how many times a page has been shared on Twitter), the Pigeon update has placed more emphasis on factors which are achievable for local businesses. These include:

  • Links from local directories (such as Yell and TripAdvisor)
  • Information entered on Google+
  • Having local interest content on a company blog

As long as the directories are reputable, the information accurate and the content relevant, local businesses can easily take advantage of the search engine boost offered by the update.


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