Google’s ‘Pigeon’ Update: What Does It Mean For Your Business?

On July 24 Google introduced an update to its local search algorithm in a bid to make local search results more useful and relevant.

If you’ve seen a change in your local business’ website’s ranking since this date then this is probably why! For some these changes have been positive, but not for everyone.

The update wasn’t given an official name by Google but was dubbed ‘Pigeon’ by Search Engine Land, a name that seems to have stuck.

How has the update changed search results?

Changes in search results can be seen in both Google web search and Google maps.

  • Google Local Packs

One of the most noticeable changes is the decrease in search results that feature Google Local Packs.

For those that aren’t sure, these are Local Packs:


According to MOZ Cast the number of local listing packs appearing in search results has dropped from 12.1% on July 3rd to just 3.3% on July 27th.

  • Ties Local Search to Web Search

Another significant change that was introduced with the pigeon update is to do with the way Google’s’ local search’ ranks results. Local search has now been brought more in-line with web search and uses hundreds of the same ranking signals as web search. These include Knowledge Graph, spelling correction and synonyms. Domain authority now has a lot more influence than it used to on how local listings are ranked.

  • Increased Visibility for Local Directories

In the past local directory website Yelp had accused Google of favouring its own search results and Google+ reviews over local directory listings like those found on Yelp. The new pigeon update has laid this argument to rest as it has significantly improved the ranking of local directory listings like those on Yelp.


So, what changes can you make to optimise your website for the pigeon update?

  • Make sure you’re listed in local directories

First and foremost it is important that all local businesses make sure that they are listed in local business directories on the internet.

  • Ensure all profiles and listings are completed

It’s not enough to simply have a presence on local directory websites either, to get the best results you should ensure your profiles on these websites are filled out fully, including the photo section. It’s also a great idea to encourage happy customers to leave reviews for your business on directory websites.

  • Ensure your SEO strategy is up to scratch

Now that Google ranks local websites using the same ranking signals that it does for normal web search it’s essential that your business’ local SEO strategy is up to scratch.

  • Increase your digital footprint

The more authoritative your website appears the better its domain authority will be, so local businesses need to increase their presence online. If you don’t already have a blog on your website then set one up and provide your customers with engaging, valuable and relevant content.

  • Engage customers on social media

Another way to increase your business’ digital footprint and improve your SEO ranking is by engaging with your customers on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Share and publish your website content across social media platforms and encourage customers to review your products or services on Facebook and Google+. Engage and interact with your customers and encourage them to comment on and share your content with their friends.

If you’ve noticed any changes in your website’s ranking and would like some advice on how to make your local business visible on Google again then please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling us on 0845 030 4444.