It had to happen, and it has. The most recent Google update, named Pigeon, is focused on local search results, and it has had some rather wide reaching effects.
The stated intention of this update is to more closely tie local results with what the standard web ranking signals now are. This is presumably done to make rankings more consistent, and improve the quality of the results. While it’s not clear whether it will succeed in those aims, there are several ramifications that are clear, and the effects they are having is very real for some local businesses.
Let’s have a quick look at what the first impressions of this Pigeon are, and how it is affecting local search results.
3 Initial effects Pigeon is having on local search
- This is a win for the brand directories - If you happen to be a large brand directory like Yelp, TripAdvisor or Yellowpages.com, you are enjoying the ride. These sites are seeing as much as a 10 percent rise in traffic and rankings, many times appearing multiple times for a local search query.
- A far smaller Google Map presence - The area covered in a Google Map listing for local has shrunk considerably, giving fewer businesses a shot at being included, and thus opening up more room for more directory results. It also makes it harder for businesses located in the suburbs to find their way in there as well.
- Down with the 7 pack - The 7-pack of local results has disappeared for most search terms, only around for the most popular queries. Instead they have been replaced with a 3-pack of results or sometimes none at all. This results in a traffic loss for sites no longer in the 7-pack of around 16 percent a month! That should get your attention.
The Pigeon update still has a lot of shaking out to do, and there may be more adjustments to come, as there always are with this kind of algorithm shift. The best thing local site owners can do at this point is make sure they are well-optimized in the local directory results, as that may be all you get for a while.