What’s a Google Pigeon, and How Does It Help With Local Search

Just when you thought you had Search Engine Optimization (SEO) down, Google changed algorithms by launching Google Pigeon in July 2014. While it’s considered an advancement for those that use local search as part of their digital strategy, it also spelled trouble for businesses unaware that Pigeon had changed the rules.

If you’re one of these businesses, perhaps the following primer on Pigeon can help.

Neighborhoods Are Where It’s At

In the old SEO model, city searches were in. If you ran a Cheesesteak shop in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood, using the key words ‘Philadelphia and Cheesesteak’ could land you a premier spot in an online search.

Today, Pigeon algorithms narrow searches down to neighborhoods. This means a competitor that is more specific, for instance one that uses ‘Port Richmond, Cheesesteak’ as key search terms, is more likely to appear first.

Takeaway: SEO under Google Pigeon is going from the proverbial thirty-thousand foot view to something much closer to ground level. As such, you need to see what they see. This includes neighborhoods, including nicknames like ‘dining district,’ noteworthy points of interest and other nuances. Using these types of key terms will result in favorable search results with Google Pigeon.

Directories Have Been Impacted

Early on when SEO was less refined, gaining web ranks was as easy as putting your business information onto any and every directory available. Today, the system is much more discriminating.

First, if you’re not local to the area being searched, you will not outrank the businesses that are. Pigeon algorithms simply don’t allow it. Second, there are usually a select few directories that matter – and a whole lot that don’t.

To see which directories are important, take a look at what comes up when you google your business. For instance, Yelp!, Open Table, TripAdvisor and Urban Spoon, might be the top directories to appear in a search for Philly Cheesesteak Restaurants in the Port Richmond neighborhood.

Takeaway: Pay special attention to the directories that rank highest for your business. Create your profile with these in mind.

Don’t Forget the Basics

While changing algorithms means reevaluating your search strategy, there are still some basic practices your business can employ right now to improve local search rankings.

First, make sure that your content is up to par. Go for quality info that will rise to the top when searched. Incorporate solid, local links that matter and keep your content fresh.

Second, make sure your website is technologically sound and that it’s optimized for mobile. According to recent Google statistics, eighty percent of “near me” and “nearby” searches are done on smart phones and mobile devices.

Takeaway: Don’t get so wrapped up in the post-Google Pigeon fallout that you forget to take care of the little things.

As Google continues to evolve and SEO continues to change, new opportunities to position your business on top of the digital heap are many. Whether you sell cheesesteaks or something else, taking advantage of them is one sure way to take a bite out of the competition.

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