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The Real Deal on Google’s Pigeon Update

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Google Pigeon – not to be confused with PigeonRank, which was an algorithmic feature which relied on the “superior trainability of the domestic pigeon and its unique capacity to recognize objects regardless of spatial orientation,” courtesy of Google’s April Fools from 2002 – is the most recent algorithm update in the series of Penguin, Panda, Platypus (just kidding, the last one’s fake) updates to improve search quality for Google users, which is pretty much everyone.

Pigeon, named by those clever folks at Search Engine Land, refers to a local search update that is meant to provide higher quality, more relevant and more accurate search results in Google Maps and traditional Google Search results. Google has said that it has improved their location and distance ranking factors and it is currently only live in the US (with other countries and languages expected to roll out soon).  In this, local directories came out ahead and are demonstrating a higher ranking authority than previously tracked.  Several SEO experts have tracked local directory clients at higher than normal levels over the last few days.

While Google purports to focus all SEO updates on mitigating web spam and improving overall search relevance and experience, some of this seems motivated by the whining from Yelp that if a user searches for something like “Smarter Searches Yelp” they’d be served our site first, a Google+ or maps listing second, and Yelp perhaps third or lower, despite the query having Yelp in it.  Around here, we don’t put a lot of stock in Yelp reviews, so we’re not likely to care about what Yelp cares about, but the fact that local directories are holding more sway benefits those who practice local SEO in a way that factors in things like distance, neighborhood, directory information, and more (companies like, say, Smarter Searches!).

While many believe it’s too soon to tell the ultimate impact of Pigeon (if any), one thing is important: pay attention to your local market, your local directories, and your local ranking factors.  If you are a locally based business, it’s important to optimize your site knowing that local matters in the SERP’s.  Also, if you want to read up on Pigeon Rank, check it out here. .