Google “Pigeon” – what is it and what effect will it have?

August 19, 2014 - ContentTransfer

The name “Pigeon”, coined by Search Engine Land (since there is no official name), refers to the most recent local search algorithm changes made by Google. Currently these changes only affect US English searches and it is not clear when they will affect the rest of the world. The knowledge of how these changes have affected searches in the US is crucial, especially for companies most likely to be negatively affected by the algorithm. Unlike previous algorithms, the “Pigeon” update is not intended to penalize anyone. Rather, the update is designed to improve distance and location parameters with the aim of improving relevancy. These changes focus on local searches and appear to make a number of changes to the SERP:

  • Firstly, the change seems to benefit local businesses as opposed to local brands. So, a search for a café in a specific town would produce results of local cafés, as opposed to Costa or Starbucks. Companies with a presence on Google+ will also have their menus reviews and photographs on the SERP, and will evidently benefit as a result.
  • Secondly, the change appears to mean that local rankings will be affected by traditional search ranking factors. This means that local rankings now rely more on domain authority, good back links etc.
  • Thirdly, local directories appear to be ranking better. Yelp, for example, recently claimed that Google was essentially stealing its search traffic. Although the truth of this is something to debate, it seems that the “pigeon” update does help local directories rank better.
  • Finally, a number of keywords now do not include a local listing pack on the SERP when searched.

It’s also interesting to note that the carousel has barely been affected by the changes, meaning that it is perhaps even more important to have a Google+ account – especially if your company has been bumped down the organic listings by local directories.

It is, therefore, of great importance for businesses to ensure that they have a good SEO strategy in order to remain successful when this change comes to the UK. Visit for more information as to how you can ensure you remain on top.