Impact of Google Pigeon Update To Local SEO and What You Can Do
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I watched a webinar held by four Google Local marketing experts on the impact of Google Pigeon update recently.
In this article I will share with you what I learned about the Google’s Pigeon update that started a couple of months ago, and what you can do to ensure your small business will still be found by your visitors.
Here are some of the results of a survey conducted during this webinar which had over 1,600 attendees:
- 41% said the Pigeon update was good for business and good for searchers; 28% said it was bad for business but good for searchers
- 33% saw no changes to their search engine results after the latest update
- 35% stayed about the same when asked if they gained or lost traffic
- 58% stayed about the same when asked about converting traffic
“Launched on July 24, 2014, the Pigeon update aimed to provide more accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional organic search ranking signals and more tightly geo-targeted around the searcher’s location. The impact of this update has been widespread and varied with some businesses and whole industries have been negatively affected.”
In the photo example below I searched for a jewelry shop in the state of South Carolina, Google knows that I live in Summerville, SC and shows me the shops nearest to me in the local search results. You might have noticed yourself lately that the map radius has become much shorter for some brands, especially if you search on mobile devices. The proximity and location of your small business in searches is affected! If your potential customers are searching for someone like you in the city and you are in a suburb or neighboring town you could be negatively effected.
As you can see only three shops (packs) show in this local search list. Many 7 packs became 3 packs in Google searches since the Pigeon update. Why? Apparently it draws more attention to Adwords, the listings on top and on the right hand side under the map. Remember, Google is a money making company just like every other business. Organic traffic went down since the Pigeon update and Adwords are bringing in more traffic for larger organizations advertising on Google. In the past month alone I received 2 letters with $100 Google advertising coupon codes. Let me know if you’re interested in advertising on Google and I will email you the code.
Since the radius has been reduced for searches Google is struggling to find good results to show. Google marketing experts say “We see more spam, fake addresses and fake phone numbers now. A lot of spam shows in local pack results since the Pigeon update. Google will gradually sift and filter out these spam listings.” The internet is a dynamic environment and with honest tactics your listing will come back. Now is a good time to get familiar with Google Map Makers RER (Regional Expert Reviewer) to get any spam listings taken down.
“It is very important to provide a consistent footprint of your business.“ says Mike Blumenthal of Local U, a site that covers a wide range of Internet Marketing topics, with a focus on Local Search Engine Optimization.
Make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) is correct in your Google My Business (formerly known as Google Local Places) listing. If your NAP is wrong you will reduce your search strength of the listing in Google, end up with duplicate listings or send customers the wrong directions or contact information.
The age of a Google page listing and having a fair amount of reviews is important in order to get listed on the first page, but showing the correct information to your potential customers is just as important to get found in the real world.
Be sure to have access to your Google page listing and make updates when contact information changes. Here are a few more pointers for local small business owners to help their page ranking:
- Create long-tail, localized keywords for organic traffic
- Don’t depend on just Google for all of your traffic
- Diversify your marketing (online, offline, local, print, etc.)
- Make your business newsworthy (create events, make the news, etc.)
- Work on your public relations angle
- Place a call to action “Driving Directions” near your phone number on top of the page with a link to Google Maps directions
- Use Google Plus and post a blog update at least once every three weeks
Is having a Google business page the same as a small business website?
In other words, should a small business have a website? Yes, Google looks for proxies of prominence (an authority page), the primary source of that is a business website. An authority page can’t be a Google+ page, but has to be a website!
What did we learn from the Google local marketing experts?
Just because you loose your spot in a pack on the first page of Google doesn’t necessarily has to mean a drop in your sales. The trend moves toward knowledge graph and how it relates to searches, and Google makes the decision on who to show which business listings based on brands and the type of marketing they have done. So, be sure your business information shows correct and consistently. Update or change your keywords to stay current and relevant. Implement other ways to get traffic to your business online and offline. An don’t forget, mobile traffic is expected to rise tremendously in the coming months! Find out if your website is mobile ready or if you need a re-design.
Did you notice a change in your search engine results after the Pigeon update? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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