Google Releases So-Called Pigeon Update for Local Listings
Posted by drew on July 27, 2014, 6 p.m.
Local search has proven to be important to users, and therefore important to Google as well. The basic idea is that users enjoy a search results experience that includes results for businesses close to them. Google reflects the value they put in this type of search through Google Maps search results included in the web search results pages.
Late last week, Google released an update to their local search algorithm that has the power to influence the way local businesses show up in search results. Given that Google has not yet named this update, the SEOs at Search Engine Land have nicknamed this change the Pigeon Update.
According to sources at Google, the so-called Pigeon Update enables local searches to tie in more closely to the hundreds of ranking signals used in Google’s standard web search algorithm. This includes things like latent semantic index (LSI) keywords, which associates groups of synonyms together.
Pigeon also improves the distance ranking parameter of local search, meaning businesses closer to your location will rank more highly in your local searches.
How are you optimizing your local listings in Google?
While focusing on national (or even international) SEO is a good thing, it can be just as important to handle your local listings, especially if you are a business with multiple locations. Here are some basic steps to starting the management of your local listings.
1. Ensuring consistent (and plentiful) information about your business
Google uses many sources to verify business information. If the information in their sources matches the information they have on file (perhaps from when you claimed and updated your listing on Google Maps), then they view that information as more authoritative. This means a higher ranking.
In addition to the basics like your business name, address, and phone number, you should also provide as much information as possible to the various listing sites. This often includes your business hours, a description of your business, a list of services offered, images, etc.
Some places that you should make sure to have a consistent presence of information: Facebook, Foursquare, YP.com, Yelp, and Citysearch. There are, of course, many many more places where you could write a business listing. Some of them are paid services, and others are free. This is just a small list to get you started.
Also, remember that you should claim your Google Maps listing and a Google+ business page. These are your opportunities to give the desired information directly to Google.
2. Avoid trying to optimize for local search terms on your website
Long ago, SEOs could include long lists of geographic terms at the bottom of the page to rank in those areas. This is now keyword stuffing, so don’t do it. Another option SEOs came up with was to create an individual page for each location and service combination. For example, sites would have pages for “Widget A in Denver,” “Widget B in Denver,” “Widget A in New York,” “Widget B in New York,” and on and on.
These pages usually had the exact same content on them with the exception of the location name. This created a massive amount of duplicate content on the site, so it is also not a good idea from an SEO perspective.
Instead, optimize your site for keywords that are not geographically specific. You can include a page that has location information for all of your various locations, but make sure not to have the same content on more than one page.
This update is still new, so Google hasn’t yet released how it may have impacted search results. We will continue to update this post with information on Pigeon as it becomes available. In the mean time, use the tips above to help manage your local listings, so you can show up higher on Google local search listings.