During December Google confirmed that they have rolled out an update to their Pigeon algorithm that affects local searches.
The Pigeon update was confirmed to have hit the UK in the middle of December, bang in the middle of the Christmas shopping season for local business who may rely on their online presence to succeed.
Pigeon was first released in the US in July 2014 and is designed to make local searches more useful, relevant and accurate to the user. The algorithm ties in deeper to Google’s hundreds of ranking signals such as referrals, knowledge graph, spelling correction etc.
Most of the algorithm update has occurred behind the scenes – with results in Google Maps changing appearance and design – but local search engine rankings are likely to be affected in some cases, especially in areas where there is high competition.
Google says that this algorithm marks a move towards more traditional SEO techniques such as backlinks, domain authority etc. It also improves their distance and location ranking parameters, meaning that you are more likely to get more relevant results for the locality searched.
This is the first time Google has rolled out the algorithm to the UK and at the same time they added it to their Australian and Canadian engines. Pigeon has been well received in the US, with 41% of local businesses surveyed believing that the algorithm is good for businesses and users alike.
Predominantly the results reported by these businesses are that not much has changed, with many not noticing an increase or decrease in traffic or business after the algorithm was released.
This algorithm update may have had affected the search rankings if we are monitoring a local search engine such as Sheffield, Manchester or other city. The exact numbers of sites affected by the pigeon update have not been published, so it is difficult to say what the impact of this update is.
In the scheme of things the Pigeon update is a minor algorithm update, it is not of the scale of the Penguin or Panda algorithms but we will still monitor the local search results if we are optimising them for your site to ensure that any effects the update may have had will be rectified as soon as possible.