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Another Google Algorithm Update

Feel like you’ve just finally adjusted to Google’s Panda and Payday updates? Well, it’s time to regroup and prepare for the consequences of yet another algorithmic change. If you follow MozCast, you’ve noticed significant turbulence over the last week. Though Google has yet to name this recent update, Search Engine Land has taken it upon themselves to label it the “Pigeon” update, and since we find this fitting (because it is yet another silly animal that starts with the letter “P”), that is what we’ll refer to it for the rest of this post. So, what does this Pigeon update focus on and what changes can we expect to see in search results?

Google’s Pigeon updates hones in on local search results, specifically targeting more useful, relevant, and accurate ones. Google aims to tie local results more closely to standard Web ranking signals and search features such as Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms, etc. Thus, local businesses with strong SEO foundations will have a more positive impact than those without. It also looks to improve the pairing of local searches with Google Maps results by improving distance and location ranking parameters. You might have also noticed the added scroll bar that shows up in Google.

The most obvious consequence of this algorithmic change seems to be what is appearing first in local searches now. Because directories often have a stronger foundation of SEO, you’ll start to see them rank higher than local businesses in the searched area. Sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor are now ranking above actual local websites. Search results within search results are getting rewarded and starting to show up in carousels. However, there is no update on the percent of queries impacted by the update yet. The next question is, is this a positive or negative in the realm of local businesses? For directories, it’s a positive. Otherwise, it’s hard to tell. Some local businesses are seeing an increase in traffic, some are seeing a decrease in traffic, and some have reported no affect at all. You’ll hear different perspectives from different companies, and it’s still too early to see how many companies are affected in general.

How should you best prepare for the recent algorithmic change?

If your local website has seen a drop in traffic, work on getting web search listings for local keywords. If you’ve seen a drop in rankings, focus heavily on your SEO. Do a competitor analysis to see where you stand in regards to other local competitors, and adjust which keywords you’re targeting as well as on-page content accordingly. Since directories are showing a boost in rankings, make sure you’re on those directory pages that are ranking higher and make sure your page stands out. Add pictures and an enticing “about” section that will attract visitors to your business. Also, make sure you have a high-quality photo for your businesses Google+ account as it will attract people viewing carousel results.

If you’re a local business, stay on top of this update! It could significantly improve web rankings and traffic if you respond accordingly.  

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