Dubbed ‘Pigeon’, the latest Google Algorithm release means local businesses will need to fight even harder for those top ranked spots on Google SERPs (search engine results pages). Currently only affecting the US, the majority of changes included in Google’s new update are behind the scenes. However, websites who already have solid SEO (search engine optimisation) are assuredly going to come out on top. Google have yet to release any official commentary regarding the Algorithm change or when to expect it in Australia and judging by past algorithm events it could potentially be a bit of a wait for more information. In the meantime we’ve collated some insights to help small business owners understand this change.
Say goodbye to Google’s 7-pack
The most obvious update from Pigeon is the removal of Google’s 7-pack from the results pages. The Google 7-pack is the place on the SERP where up to seven local businesses appear as an organic ranking with accompanying address, phone number, review details and position pins placed in the Google Map element of the page. You can see them below outlined in the Red and Blue boxes respectively:
7-pack listings have been replaced by directory listings on US SERPs for approximately 60% of tested local search queries. That means if you’re a business that is rating towards the lower end of the top seven listings you could potentially lose that placement in the coming months.
Why the Algorithm update?
The decline in the amount of local ‘pack’ results equals an increase in visibility for directory listings. This could be due to Yelp recently accusing Google of manipulating its search results to favour its own content over that of directories. Google seems to have taken this accusation into account and changed their algorithm accordingly. In the below screenshot, taken from Google.com with the location set as ‘Chicago’, you will notice the local pack listings and Google map element are missing. Now Yelp directory are holding a higher ranking position on the SERP:
How can I avoid being impacted by Penguin?
Effectively, Google’s end goal is to give online searchers more specific results, which means it is more important than ever for local businesses to secure their presence across a broad base of directories. Small business owners wanting to make the most of this new change will need to prove to Google and online consumers that they have a genuine business with a quality product or service. Google will reward businesses that have the most search-relevant information by keeping them in the top three local listings. This means Google is likely to show more location specific listings based on the consumer’s locality instead of using a broad approach. Part of the ReachSEO Plus strategy is to include a strong presence for small businesses on directory listings, so ReachSEO Plus clients won’t see any adverse impact by Pigeon.
Have your search results been affected by Pigeon? What measures do you have in place to rectify the changes? Let us know in a comment!