- Posted by Trevor Weitzel
- On May 6, 2015
Google’s Pigeon Update Is a Game-Changer for Local Search. Here’s How You Can Get Back in the Game.
Marketing your local business may now be a little more challenging. A recent Google algorithm update, dubbed Pigeon by many in the industry, had a significant effect on many small business websites. If you are trying to dominate local search, you are going to have to understand the ins and outs of the new Pigeon algorithm.
What Is the Pigeon Update?
Pigeon joins Panda and Penguin in the menagerie of algorithms that online marketers must cope with in order to rank well in search engine results. The Pigeon algorithm targets sites that are striving to attract local visitors in specific geographic regions and represents a significant change in the way Google looks at local websites. If your website traffic plummeted after Pigeon rolled out in late July, then you will need to re-assess how you optimize your website for local search.
The rules have changed for local search optimization due to the Pigeon algorithm. The key change is that the algorithm incorporates more of the traditional SEO ranking signals. In the past, local businesses could get away with simply optimizing for their name, address and phone number. Now they have to pay attention to the same concerns as other websites in order to obtain a high rank. These changes have had a profound impact on the results of local searches.
How Did Pigeon Affect Local Businesses?
Businesses with decent but small websites lost traffic due to the algorithm. Directories and large review sites were rewarded because they featured more content.
This update was a game-changer for many local businesses that relied on local search traffic to attract new customers. Instead seeing your business in local search results, Internet searchers now see directory entries and reviews of businesses in your niche. To succeed at local search, you need to understand this new algorithm.
What You Can Do About the Pigeon Update
The good news is that there is something you can do to put your business back on the local search map. Here are some tactics that you can implement to improve your results:
Focus on Traditional SEO
- Since the Pigeon update is ranking sites based on traditional SEO signals, you should make sure that your website is optimized for these signals. SEO. Here are just a few items you should look at:
- Keywords: Make sure that you are targeting keywords with high local volume. Check your keywords with and without a geographic reference.
- Structured data markup: This information is placed in the code for your site to help search engines classify and rank your page more accurately. In the past, you did not need this kind of data to win local search traffic. With the new algorithm, using this kind markup results in higher site rankings. You want to use this markup to clearly distinguish the various different locations of your business.
- Title tags, headers, site architecture and other technical factors are important as well.
Commit to Google+
- If you want to really be visible in Google searches, then you need to optimize your Google+ page. Make sure your profile is complete with pictures, descriptions and categories. Be sure that all your business location information is correct.
Develop a Local Content Creation Strategy
- The Pigeon update should change your content strategy. You are going to have to optimize your content for your specific geographic region. Include geographic keywords, references to specific local landmarks and natural place names.
- You should deal with local concerns in your content. For example, if you run a landscaping business, you might share about landscaping issues that are specific to your region. This provides a natural way to focus on location in your content.
Engage Other Local Content Creators
- Another successful strategy is to find and engage local content creators. If you run small organic grocery, then you might look for local moms with blogs that focus on organic products. By engaging these individuals through social media, you can gain visibility with multiple audiences. You will also pick up unstructured citations that help your Google rank.
Focus on Local Directory and Review Site Entries for Your Businesses
- Since it seems like Google is giving prominent placement to review sites and directories in the search results, you want to make sure that your business is visible on these sites. The first step is make sure that all your business information is correct and consistent on every site. You should also encourage your customers to review and rate your business on these sites.
These are just a few basic steps to get you started in optimizing your website for local searches. The release of the Pigeon update means that Google is now paying more attention to local searches than ever before. Whether you are trying to recover from the algorithm update or are just getting started with local search, you will need to pay attention to these factors for your site to rank highly in Google’s results.