Released in July, the mysterious Pigeon update hit search results and Google Maps in the US, and is yet to affect UK search results.
Although the update was given no official title by Google, the name was coined by Barry Shwartz of Search Engine Land. The algorithm change was found to affect local ranking results, although it is not known how the update has changed search results for other industries, or to what scale they have been altered.
Despite the uncertainty, a few changes stood out upon the initial release, with the reduction of local pack results in the SERPS. Whereas previous search queries may have brought back seven, reports state that these pack results have now been reduced to as little as three, or sometimes even nothing at all.
Google was not totally silent on the change however, and implied that Pigeon delves deep into search capabilities, stating that the new algorithm improves ‘distance and location ranking parameters.’
So when will we get it?
Personally, I think that such an update will hit the UK with the next few weeks (I’ve already spotted some suspicious movements in the SERPs – see below), and would not be surprised whatsoever if Google decided to tweak something over the bank holiday weekend – there’s nothing like catching SEO companies out like that. After all, Google’s job is to keep us on our toes!
This SERP is awful. Firstly I’m not sure I want Gumtree for the query [office space London] + certainly not 3 times! pic.twitter.com/qZ51X7lrkb
— Martin Woods (@mocwoods) August 21, 2014
But what will happen when it does?
In the US, marketers felt that the change was largely similar to last year’s Hummingbird update, with directories such as Yelp being rewarded, and even bringing up “results within the results”, with the same directories appearing a number of times within the same results.
David Mihm of MOZ has pointed out, however, that such an update didn’t necessarily improve user experience, and may have even ‘downgraded’ the quality of SERP results. In my opinion, I don’t see why UK search results won’t share the same fate, even if Google has had the chance to make a few amendments along the way.
But should we be surprised that YELP came up trumps?
Probably not, as Yelp has been complaining for some time that Google has been putting Yelp search results and reviews on Google+, mostly before the word ‘Yelp’ was even typed within the search box. Some experts therefore cite that the update almost resolves the “Yelp problem” entirely.
So what should we do until the Pigeon update gets here?
In honesty, at the moment, there is little that can be done, although some measures have been advised to ensure that the UK update won’t kill off any large amount of traffic:
- Carry on creating great content
- Optimize a client’s site for local search results. Remember to include cities and counties in title tags and H1s.
- Mark up addresses using Microformat data
- Collect positive reviews from customers
- Earn links from local entities
- Keep on communicating with people on social platforms
It really is that simple, but until it actually hits, there’s nothing we can do but our best.
If you have any results which you believe could be influenced by Pigeon, please share!