Google Pigeon: Initial Thoughts
On 24th June 2014, Google released its latest update. It hasn’t been publicly named by Google but has been nicknamed “Pigeon” by Search Engine Land. Google hasn’t released much information about the update, but this is what we know so far based on early experience and opinion in the SEO community.
Why the name Google Pigeon?
Search Engine Land says they have nicknamed the updated Pigeon as it is a local search update and pigeons tend to fly back home.
What is Pigeon?
According to Search Engine Land, Google has said the update will lead to a more useful and relevant experience for searchers seeking local results. Essentially, the update is a change in an attempt to return better quality results to those searching for local services. Currently, this has only been rolled out to US results.
How is it impacting the search results?
It is early days but one thing that seems to be occurring is an increase in rankings for directories, with the likes of Yelp and TripAdvisor a couple of the examples mentioned across the SEO community. However, lesser known directories are also appearing along with relevant articles. For example, for restaurant searches, an article about local restaurants may appear. Although there is no confirmation that the update has been rolled out to the UK we have noticed improved rankings for the Legal 500 website across a range of legal searches.
One of the early complaints is that directories are, to some extent, replacing individual businesses. Individual businesses are appearing in the carousel at the top of the page and in the map/local listing, but are not as prominent in the organic listings.
What could Google Pigeon mean?
It appears as though Google Pigeon could be good news for directories, including small, local directories. Although it is too early to say as results are currently only rolled out in the US and there are likely to be further alterations to the algorithm, it appears that directories may appear more prominently in the organic results. Is Google deciding that the carousel and map listings are the place for individual businesses to be listed, while the organic listing is not? It will be interesting to see how this evolves, as we would argue that a lack of businesses appearing in the organic results is not necessarily what searchers want. My thinking is that this will not mean the end of businesses ranking in the organic results, but more of the prominent positions may be taken up by the likes of directories.
It is too early to say what the on-going result of Google Pigeon will mean and the proportion of results that will be impacted. It is also uncertain as to whether it will impact local searches across all sectors or just some. As always, though, it will be interesting to see how this develops.