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In many parts of the UK, pigeons are considered a menace. They make a mess everywhere and are generally not very popular. Well Google’s Pigeon update isn’t quite that bad, but it has affected an awful lot of websites and you can’t afford to ignore it. So, what is the Google Pigeon update and what can you do to minimise the damage?
The name Pigeon originated from a Search Engine Land post which confirmed there was going to be a new algorithm update but Google had no internal name for it. In keeping with the animal naming process, Barry Schwartz named the algorithm "Pigeon" and from that moment forward the name took flight.
The effects of the Pigeon update were first felt on July 24 last year in the US and in the following days, many webmasters saw their rankings plummet like a, well, dead pigeon. A further update followed in August, and then in December, Google rolled out Pigeon in the UK, Australia and Canada.
Panda and Penguin penalised webmasters for a variety of things, including bad links and poor content, but Pigeon is focused on targeting the fundamental changes to the underlying local search algorithm.
The Pigeon algorithm aims to provide web users with more relevant and local results. When the update hit Google explained that it was trying to tie local searches in with traditional organic rankings. As a result, locally ranked websites are now affected by underlying SEO factors such as quality of backlinks and domain authority.
Large directory sites such as Yell.com and Foursquare have been given a boost, but for smaller business websites it’s a different story. There are also plenty of ups and downs within different sectors. For example, in the US, hospitality websites have experienced a 28% growth in Google Places whereas estate agents have seen a 63% decline. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are ways to beat the pigeon!
The way to deal with the aftermath of Pigeon is to get your head around the whole ‘local’ concept. It is now harder for local businesses to hit the top spots in local search results, but it can be done. The first thing you need to do is to create a profile on Google+ and be sure to setup a specific page for your business. As long as you are listed in the correct category and you have included your correct business address details, Pigeon should start showing you a bit of love.
If your business only operates within a local geographic, it's important that your website's rankings reflect a strong performance within local search engine results. For further advice about how to improve your local search engine rankings, speak to a member of our SEO team today.