Google’s pigeon algorithm lands in the UK

It’s been over a month now since Google confirmed its Pigeon algorithm in the UK, so what impact has it made on businesses?

Pigeon first rolled out across the US in July and we had five months to sit back and watch the results before it hit UK shores, just two days before Christmas. In true Google fashion it will have been a spanner in the works for many business owners during the most important part of the year. So what does it mean for you now 2015 is well under way?

What Exactly Is The Pigeon Update?

Google’s Pigeon update specifically targets local listings in search results, so you don’t have to worry about quality content or link profiles with this algorithm. But a number of businesses have seen their search ranking hit for a very different reason.
Previously, Google returned up to seven local listings for relevant searches, but this has been reduced to as little as three, or sometimes none at all. Basically, Google just made the search area for local results much smaller and users see less listings now, from much closer to their location.

How Does This Affect Me?

If your business relies on location and physically welcomes customers through the door then you’re in line to see some changes. As local SEO gets more specific you may find yourself too far away from users all of a sudden – especially if you’re on the outskirts of a city.
While another impact seen in the US over the last six months has been an influx of directory listing sites. This doesn’t leave much room for organic results on page one after Google Maps and the likes of dominate the screen. And, assuming things follow suit here in the UK, it’s about to get much harder to land on page one for local searches.

Okay, So What Can I Do About It?

Normally it would be far too early for us to talk about countermeasures for an update like this, but we’ve had six months to monitor the US and devise plans. And although we can’t take the States as proof of what to expect (you never know with Google) there are some safe bets this time around.
First of all you need to get listed with Google+ properly and take advantage of Google My Business. This links your Google+ page with your Maps location and any reviews customers decide to leave. These reviews are gold by the way, so you want to do everything you can to build up a five-star profile.
Another major ranking signal for Pigeon is your business NAPs (name, addresses and phone numbers). You need to make sure these are perfect across your entire online presence – which means no spelling mistakes or variations (like St. and Street). It’s a good idea to fill out your NAPs for Google+ first and then use the exact same info for profiles on the major directory listing sites in the UK and your area.

Have You Been Hit By Pigeon?

If you think your ranking has suffered from the Pigeon update, get in touch. Or join our mailing list for more posts on Pigeon and other digital marketing essentials.