Pigeon: Google's pigeon update

Photo by grendelkahn – Flickr CC

Google’s recent update – unofficially labeled the “Pigeon” update – is impacting the local search listings associated with Google Maps (the 7-pack).

Although not a lot is known about the update yet, Google did say that it ties local results more closely to Google’s regular web ranking signals, and provides them better accuracy over distance and location rankings.

Early Results

1. One apparent outcome of this update is a significant change in which local search terms result in the display of the 7-pack (Google Maps) as reported by Mike Blumenthal (and later updated), including the inclusion of SEO, Web Design, and Marketing in the local results for the first time in over 5 years.

2. For those industries that are heavily associated with directories and review sites (i.e. restaurants, hotels, etc.), the individual businesses are showing up in the Google Carousel, but the Organic listings on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are filled with the directories (i.e. Yelp, Urbanspoon, and TripAdvisor).

Given Google’s confirmation that the update aligns Local Search more closely with regular ranking signals, this shift makes sense as the larger directory and review sites should have stronger search signals than individual businesses.

Marketing Implications

1. Periodically check your industry/business related Local Search terms to make sure that they haven’t changed – you may need to update your strategy if they do.

2. If your industry keywords are suddenly resulting in “local’ search results (i.e. web designers) – time to get optimized for local search.

3. If your industry keywords are no longer resulting in the local search 7-pack, focus on Organic SEO to make sure that you are appearing in the organic results.

4. If your SERPs are filled with industry directories and review sites, do what you can to make sure that your business shows up in those directory results – register your business, completely fill out the information, and collect positive reviews.

5. If your local ranking drops as a result of the update, you probably need to develop stronger Organic SEO signals – on-page optimization, backlinks, etc – to accompany your local optimization.


There will be winners and losers with this update, but no matter the impact on your industry, it is apparent that the Pigeon update has made Organic SEO a more influential component of Local search.

Thanks for reading! Your comments and questions, and shares are welcomed and appreciated! Have you noticed any differences in your local search results?



We’re back!!!

More than 5 years after being removed from the Google Map listings – SEO’s, web designers, and marketing firms are once again appearing in Google’s Local search results!

Local Search Results

If you’ve been ignoring your own “Local” search optimization, it’s time to make it a priority!

1. Verify your business on Google My Business, Bing Places, Yahoo Local Listing, and Yelp for Business Owners.

2. Update your website for Local Search:

  • Include your business’s Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) on your website.
  • Include your geo-location in your keywords on the appropriate pages (i.e. Boise SEO).
  • Include the Google “Local” Search terms – the industry or business related search terms that result in the Google maps appearing on the search results page – for your industry, with your keywords.

3. Create Citations – listings in general business, industry related, and geo-location related business listings.

4. Collect customer reviews, especially on Google.

So far, I’ve noticed Local results showing for the following search words/phrases:

  • SEO
  • Web Design, Website Design, Web Designer
  • Marketing, Internet Marketing, Online Marketing, Web Marketing, Marketing Consulting, Marketing Consultant
  • Advertising, Advertising Agency, Ad Agency, Ad Agencies

What other industry related search terms do you find triggering Google’s local search results?

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