Google have recently rolled out an algorithm update to their local search results. Termed the “Pigeon” update by Search Engine Land, the new algorithm aims to provide useful, relevant and more accurate local search results. The main updates are said to be enhanced location and distance ranking parameters. The algorithm is also somewhat more closely tied to traditional web search ranking signals, and therefore more closely mimicking organic search results.
While Google have quietly made these changes, they have told Search Engine Land that the update was specifically for US English queries. At first glance, this update seems to have favoured local businesses over local brands. Meaning that instead of for example, Pizza Hut and Domino’s being listed for pizza restaurant queries in a specific location, the SERPs will list actual local restaurants, with brick and mortar sites, thereby improving the searcher’s experience.
What this does mean for local businesses is that they will want to be fully immersed in content marketing and social media marketing, especially G+, for them to gain full advantage of this update. Local businesses could hugely benefit from having their menus, reviews, and photographs etc showing in the SERPs.
While this algorithm update is currently only for US English queries, Google did not seem to release any information on when this update would be rolled out in other countries and languages. The percentage of queries affected by this algorithm is also unknown, as is whether any web spam algorithms were deployed in this update.
Although it is still early days and Google has given relatively little information, a few local search experts have given their insights into what they have seen since “Pigeon” was set free earlier this month. You can read these over at Search Engine Land.