The Local SEO Landscape After Google’s Pigeon Algorithm

Written by: Jason Bayless | April 09, 2015

It took local small business owners a long time to realize that they could leverage to power of the Internet in order to win customers and effectively promote their business online. Now local Search Engine Optimization is one of the most dynamic and developing aspects Internet marketing.

Given the increasing focus on local SEO, it is not surprising the Google has developed a new algorithm specifically aimed at improving the results of local search queries. Dubbed Pigeon by SEO experts, this new algorithm rolled out on July 24, 2014. Some the traffic to some local business websites plummeted, but others were more fortunate. Now that the algorithm has been operating for six months, it is possible to gauge the results and make some clear recommendation for local SEO based on the operation of Google’s Pigeon.

Mirror Traditional SEO

Prior to Pigeon, local SEO was more about having lots of accurate citations of your business in local directories. If your business name, address and phone number were accurately cited on a variety of websites, this would boost your search engine ranking.

After Pigeon, traditional SEO tactics count a lot more towards ranking. These tactics include on-page optimization that places relevant keywords on your site in the correct places. They also include off-page optimization that earns links from authoritative external websites. Many SEO experts suggests that local optimization is now best implemented by using traditional SEO tactics to target the relevant keywords plus important local search terms like your city or zip code.

Increased Visibility of Local Directory Sites

Google is assuming that someone who searches for the “best dentists in Toledo” is going to be better served by a list of dentists with ratings and reviews. That is why local businesses directories like the Internet Yellow Pages and Yelp are ranking higher in the results for these very generic searches. You can respond by making sure that your business has an accurate listing on these local directories. In addition, you want to encourage your customers to leave positive reviews on these sites.

Google’s My Business

Optimizing your business page for Google’s local search and maps is still a very worthwhile endeavor. Google Maps is more accurate and fine-tuned then ever. Google can personalize results based on the location of the user’s IP address, so it is important that your location is accurate in order to appear when people in your area search for relevant keywords.

You Can’t Trick Google for Long

Pigeon is not an anti-spam algorithm, and some spam has indeed been allowed in the local search results. Trying to exploit these loopholes might lead to short term results, but in the long run, Google is going to eliminate spammy site from its results. You cannot build your local SEO strategy by trying to trick Google. Google is going to win in the end.

What you can do is give Google what it wants: high-quality content that has authoritative links pointing at it. If you do this, then your website is going to survive many Google algorithm changes. You best strategy is to produce great content that people find valuable. These people will discuss your content online, talk about it on their blogs and on their social media. This great content will naturally attract traffic and links. Ultimately, Google’s algorithms are designed to select for these kind of sites.

Google’s Pigeon algorithm marks a serious attempt by the search engine giant to improve local search results. With more and more businesses looking to attract local search traffic, you can bet that this will not be the last algorithm update for local searches. If your business is going to maintain its visibility in local search results, you are going to have to stay abreast of what Google is doing in this area.