Google Announces Update to Local Search Algorithm

In recent days, Google has announced that its local search algorithm has been changed to accommodate changes to the way directories are listed. Recently, the company was accused by Yelp of manipulating their listings to highlight the Google company directory above Yelp. Now, when a searcher includes “Yelp” within their query, Yelp will be the first listing, along with other directories connected to that search term. This update, which has been dubbed “Pigeon” within the industry, could be a significant change within the local search marketplace. Let’s look at what’s happening and what this means for the industry:

Local Results Are Being Tied to Standard Rankings Signals

The update brings local search more in-line with standard web search signals, which are a result of social shares, backlinks and content quality. While the measurement of content quality is up for debate, the consensus is that that the most popular sites are the ones with the highest quality content. Therefore a site’s ranking is based on clicks. This now increases the importance of SEO for small, local companies.

The Update Will Improve Search Relevancy by Honing Distance & Location Parameters

Google has also optimized their local distance parameters within the Pigeon update. This will improve the local relevancy of search results, for the searcher. It’s a change that also might help local companies move up the rankings compared with nationwide chains.

Integrate Business Information into Directories to Capitalize on the Pigeon Update

The Pigeon update has had one clear effect on the way results are being shown for many queries – directories are appearing above business websites. This means that small business owners looking to make an impact should consider adding their information to the range of popular online directories. Adding company listings details to Yellow Pages, Yelp, White Pages and other sites can now enhance local search results.

While this latest update might pose further challenges to small businesses trying to compete within the larger SEO space, it also provides opportunities to improve local market performance. The optimization of distance and location parameters within the Google update means proactive small business owners can improve geographic targeting within their online campaigns. By improving their rankings signals utilizing the latest best practices within the marketplace, and including their data within local online listings repositories, small businesses can now achieve lasting local search prominence.