What Was Google’s Pigeon Update and How Could it Affect You?

February 13, 2015

google pigeon

Back in July 24th 2014, Search Engine Land broke the story that Google had released a new algorithm update. That update was later dubbed the ‘Pigeon Update’.

This particular update was aimed at local search results that affected a relatively large percentage of websites targeting local search terms.

So What Did the Pigeon Set Out To Achieve?

When the Pigeon update was first rolled out, SEOs and local business owners were up in arms about how much local search rankings had been effected. The people wanted answers, so Google explained to Search Engine Land what exactly the update affected.

They said:

The new local search algorithm ties deeper into their web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search along with search features such as Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms and more.

As usual, Google was not keen to give out specific details on what effects this update would have, but they did say that the update would change the visibility of local websites on both organic and map listings.

What Was The Overall Effect Of This Update?

When the update first came out, there where many theories about what this update specifically affected.

One of those theories, backed up by Mozcast, was that the amount of search queries showing the local ‘seven pack‘ had decreased dramatically after the update.

Image credit: http://www.link-assistant.com/news/google-pigeon-update.html

Image credit: http://www.link-assistant.com/news/google-pigeon-update.html

This meant many websites that were ranking in the ‘seven pack’ Google map listings had now disappeared. This resulted in massive losses in both website traffic and business.

Another theory was that the new algorithm update looked more closely at your website’s overall domain authority and backlink relevancy. To put it simply: Google was giving preference to websites with better and stronger backlinks than others.

Websites that were ranking locally by having great on-page SEO and content were now forced to pay for Google Adwords because of their decrease in the search engine’s rankings.

Were you affected by the Pigeon update?

Unlike other Google updates, such as Panda or Penguin, businesses harmed by this update have not been penalised by the search engine. Google have simply determined a website to be inadequately optimised for its ranking system. Thankfully, this also means that several steps can be taken to make your website more search engine friendly for local results, such as improving backlinks and restructuring content.

If you think your website may have been affected by Google’s Pigeon update and want advice about what measures you could take, give us a call today. We can analyse your site and come up with a strategy to get your website back up the search rankings.

This article was written by . Jon is the Technical Director at Pixus.

Jonathan

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