What is the pigeon update?
• Rolled out on 25 July
• Unofficially named
Pigeon to follow in the
line of ‘P’ updates.
• Concerns itself with
local search. It gives
weight to locality over
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How does it work?
• Affects results in Google
Web and Maps searches.
• Local businesses and
individual stores will see a
change in ranking.
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• The image shows two search results with a before and
• After the pigeon update the results were on average 20
minutes closer (driving) than before.
• ‘Baskin Robbins’ (a large chain) had fallen out of the
results in favour of ‘Van Dyke Ice Cream’ (an
independent store with a strong G+ profile).
• When searches are carried out with the word ‘Yelp’ in it,
this result will rank above Google’s own local listings. This
is a new development.
How does it work?
• Semantic understanding is taken into account.
• The most obvious way Google can understand this
is through the use of location; “SEO Agency
London,” for example.
• Google also uses machine learning to decipher
whether your particular search should render local
results or not.
• To use the example in a previous slide, “ice cream”
is more likely to be a local search whereas “buy
books” is less likely.
• An improvement in location detection should make
the service better.
• Google’s Knowledge Graph, reviews, citations,
mentions and local directories will all factor into
which local results appear.
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Why the change?
• Google Maps search was often seen as trailing behind in
terms of search capabilities, so bringing this up to date
was long overdue.
• The continued and unabated growth of mobile usage
means that more searches are taking place on mobile.
• Mobile search is growing, and search engines are having
to adapt to accommodate shift in search patterns.
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How will it affect SEO?
• Local businesses may notice a change in web referrals, leads
and business from the update.
• How drastic this will be is as yet unknown.
• More established, authoritative brands may struggle against
popular local stores.
• For example McDonald’s may be outranked for the term
“burger” if there is a particularly popular independent burger
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• This is currently a US English-only update which we anticipate
coming to the UK very soon. This will give us a chance to assess
the effects of the update on US sites for feedback to clients.
• For some of our clients, shop fronts are very important, as such,
having a complete Google Places page as well as an active
Google+ page is integral.
• This way, Google can find you, searchers can find you and, if
there is a buzz around your Google+ page, you are more likely
to rank well for certain searches.
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