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Be in the Know.

Google “Pigeon” Algorithm Update for Local Search

26254616_sSeems like Google algorithm updates are becoming increasingly common these days, so it might not surprise you to learn that yet another one was just rolled out. This time, it was a major update to the local search formula. The goal is to provide more relevant and accurate local search results, visible both in Web searches and Google Maps results.

While Google hasn’t revealed the official name for this update, SEO website SearchEngineLand has decided to give it the nickname “Pigeon,” based on the bird breed’s tendency to fly home. (That nickname has quickly taken hold, and now seems to be the accepted way to refer to this update.)

As with other algorithm updates, it’s tough to say exactly what this one involves or what the effects will be, especially this early in the game. That’s because so much of it happens behind the scenes and involves the many mysterious factors that make up Google’s ranking formula.

However, the search giant has revealed a few details, saying this update draws upon more traditional search ranking signals, and will also demonstrate improved distance and location parameters.

So what does this mean for businesses for which local search is a priority? Again, it’s very early in the process, but one of the immediate effects seems to be a boost in visibility for local directory site listings. Meanwhile, many businesses have reported a hard hit to their local search results, while others have seen a boost. And some report their rankings have been fluctuating widely since the update first happened. Google has admitted that there have been a few wrinkles in the immediate post-update period, and it says this is a work in progress while they continue to iron out the kinks. (This could explain the fluctuating results.)

Until we learn more about Pigeon and the specific ranking signals involved, we recommend keeping a close eye on your search rankings and metrics. You may need to tweak a few things or analyze your keywords and content and see if there’s an impact on your rankings as a result.

Of course, we also want to reiterate all of our standard advice when it comes to local search, such as making sure to include location information, using geo-targeted keywords and offering relevant content. Given that local directory/review sites such as Yelp seem to be getting a boost in visibility, it may also be helpful to encourage customers to leave positive reviews.

KEO Marketing specializes in helping businesses improve their local search strategy, and we can help you navigate new developments such as the latest Google update.


With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.