Home » SEO » How the Google Algorithm Impacted Local Search Rankings
Google's Pigeon algorithm update

How the Google Algorithm Impacted Local Search Rankings

Google's Pigeon algorithm update

An in-depth exploration of Google’s Pigeon algorithm update shows that the only way to achieve success in local SEO search is to master the affected ranking factors. Even the slightest gain in localized rankings means staying ahead of the nearest competitor. The new algorithm doesn’t change this dynamic, it’s just one of the basic facts of doing business. Fortunately, by upping the level of concentration it is possible to use the localized rankings to obtain organic results.

Uncovering Organic Factors for Local SEO Search Ranking

When starting to unravel what’s needed for organic local search engine optimization, there are four factors to consider. Most businesses are already familiar with these factors as either topics of interest or as topics of concern. Either way, below are the four key areas to concentrate on when building local search rankings:

#1. General Ranking

General ranking means identifying simple, basic strengths and using them to build upon for localized business growth. For this to work as a beneficial signal, the basics elements need to focus on the presence of keywords in titles, proximity and the specifics of inbound anchor text. Although, it may seem redundant on the surface to concentrate on specifics when your business is just looking to extend the local search results on a general level, it is important for consistency.

Users don’t want to bounce from one interface to another just trying to extract what they are searching for within a bunch of unevenly directed platforms. When searching for localized results they want to find what they need immediately and then be directed to the website of a business that is in relative close proximity to where they live. Before the update, users could use both images and websites to connect platforms like Zagat reviews. The Pigeon update has taken the general ranking category out of the business SEO model for bars, clubs, hotels, caterers, restaurants, bakeries, and venues such as amusement parks.

So what does this means with the absent of images to help with finding local businesses? Well, it means that other areas must come up to par such as citations with the correct Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP). Citations with a missing or incorrect address could mean that your business is be missing out on being found in discovery search results under Google’s new algorithm. Be authoritative and use quality, structured citations. Structured citations should include the name of the business, correct address, images, phone number, hours, and the posting of authentic positive reviews, things that make your business stand out from other local businesses in the same category.

#2. Specific Ranking

By comparison the factors for Google related marketing general searches, specific rankings means everything for local organic search results. On-page signals are equally important as the location factor is for the general ranking. Other factors include linking domain authority, keywords in the business title and the volume of the citation.

Google’s Pigeon update tracks behavioral signals. Marketing experts estimate that behavioral signals combined with mobile signals account for 9.5% of the organic localized outcomes. The percentile includes behavioral click-through rates and mobile click to call results. Perhaps business owners can learn from the rate at which it appears that the algorithm is maturing. As more and more businesses integrate changes for Pigeon over time the stakes will stabilize and reflect the quality of websites based on keywords, and orchestrated, relevant title tags, as a way to apply changes as the positioning of localized businesses start to accelerate at a faster rate.

#3. Negative Ranking

Negative Ranking has an opposite effect. It takes everything into consideration, such as poor reviews, and social media likes and followers. A lot of variables can come into play when there’s an actual dive in localized search results. A website could become the victim of a malicious attack based on a failed attempt to manipulate links. Link building has to be organic and natural or else the Google algorithm will penalized the website. Penalties were obvious with the previous roll-out of Google’s Penguin, which doled out a lot of damage as far as downgrading websites. Although, negative ranking websites are very rare, it is still a factor that is worth consideration. Because the desired result with intelligent SEO is gaining in the rankings it should be the goal of website owners everywhere. But, negative rankings should be taken seriously if someone is deliberately attempting to harm or hack your website.

Incorporating the Changes due to Google’s Local Snack Pack

Numerous sources reported that Pigeon affected local SEO search results more than any other update. Desktop users saw the 7-packs feverishly replaced with 3-packs. Usually the updated Google algorithms are mutually beneficial. But it became obvious within hours of the initial roll-out that Google had changed how local-search-ranking-factors were being measured. Local business owners quickly realized that 3-packs were the “new normal” and once again SEO would need to adjust to the change.

The appearance of 3-packs are designed to make mobile searches more specific. The change brings search queries up to par with results matching those of desktop users. The lesson for SEO experts, such as Local SEO Search Inc., is to keep doing what they’re doing and roll with the changes. One aspect of the Pigeon update that has actually helped localized results is the ineffective use of Google + reviews. With the Google + reviews showing in the Local Pack, thus far the number of actual reviews is relatively small. Although a large number of businesses are now claiming their Google + pages in an effort to get users to leave positive reviews and some are actually directing their customers to their pages. For the most part, customers are simply opting out of the planned push for a new type of review format and instead they simply choose to bypass Google + reviews and head over to YELP instead. So, at least for now this part of the change hasn’t reap any real rewards and really wasn’t worth incorporating it into the latest Pigeon update.


Perhaps if anything can be learned from the shift to a user centralized algorithm is that marketers must adapt to the changes, but don’t become maniac about big changes to SEO strategies. Instead adapt an adjusted local search strategy. The general consensus is that the changes to the Google algorithm is better for business overall.

“Centroid” as the key focus makes the local results better for targeted users. Of course, this focus isn’t going to just produce all positives, the negatives thus far has been an increased in targeted spam. Spam is never a good thing and there will always be a rise in complaints whenever there’s more of it. But for the most part the complaints caused by the Pigeon algorithm have been overplayed. All the previous updates, including Hummingbird also caused an increased in spam.  If you want to create a long term, successfully back linked, and well-crafted Local SEO driven strategies, a reliable group is Local SEO Search Inc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *