Google Updates Local Search Algorithm

Over the weekend Google released another search algorithm update, this time to their Local Search Algorithm.  An article by Search Engine Land, the updated has appropriately dubbed this the “Pigeon” update, which will most likely stick, as this appears to be a significant update.

The algorithm update will provide more accurate and relevant local search results that are linked to organic search results within the Google Maps feature, also know as Google Places.  This is critical for local businesses and SEOs as it appears that the two sets of search queries will now be tied more closely together. As you build authority organically, your local results should improve as well.

One of the key new features as reported by Search Engine Land is the improvement of location and distance ranking parameters, Knowledge Graph, and spelling correction which will all improve search results for relevant queries.

This update is a fundamental change and not really geared to combat spam. The new algorithm will include hundreds of search ranking signals currently used in web search and will provide much more accurate results on the local level for Google Maps and Places.

Local Results Are Already Changing

SEOs are already reporting changes in client rankings as you can see below in the screen shots from Search Engine Rountable.

Before the Pigeon update:

google maps search query

After the Pigeon update:

google maps algo update new

If you don’t currently use an SEO service, then I would recommend that you check your local placement on Google to see if there has been any changes since last week. Many businesses are already being affected by this update both positively and negatively.

Google has not commented on the number of queries or percentage of queries this algorithm change will immediately effect or when it will be rolled out to other countries. (The new update is currently only deployed in the United States.)

This update is literally four days old and will evolve over the coming weeks as more information is learned from the ranking changes and as SEOs dive into the analytics. We will keep you updated as new information develops.

If the current indicators are correct that local and organic search are merging together, this update will drive more relvance for sites that currently rank higher in organic SERPs.  Until now, there has been little-to-no correlation directly tied to local rankings and organic rankings.

Name – Address – Placement

Now more than ever, the simple practice of (NAP) Name / Address / Placement on your website will be critical as local and organic results mesh together.  Implementing NAP is pretty simple, yet overlooked by many website developers and business owners.

All you need to do is include your business name, local address and phone number on your website.  We recommend that you do this in the footer of your site so search bots can see it on every page as they crawl your site, but just having it on a Contact Us page will also provide benefit.

Once you have NAP in place, make sure that your directory listings and social media accounts all have the same information.  This is a key element. You do not want to have multiple addresses and phone numbers populated across the web. This will confuse Google and Bing local search and could lead to negative results.

In the meantime, if you see any changes in your local results we would love to know how you have been affected. Let us know in the comments below.