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Google pushes out a major local search algorithm update

Google launches new algorithm update aiming to produce more relevant and accurate local search results
Google launches new algorithm update aiming to produce more relevant and accurate local search results
MarketingLand.com

This new algorithm being dubbed Pigeon in the SEO community, isn't being pushed out to all world-wide searches, but it's coming to the local search results near you. Currently as it stands the Pigeon update is being rolled out for US English searches only but it's just a matter of time.

Another new Google update?

Yes. Yesterday (Friday) Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land's News Editor, reported on the new Google Pigeon update which is apparently aimed at providing more accurate local search results. I personally have noticed quite an improvement in the search results for local vs non-local searches over the past couple of years so, at the moment I can't conceive of exactly how the new search results will play out to the betterment of local businesses. Stay tuned though because I predict the information surrounding this update is going to get much better and more interesting.

It seems many of the comments on different forums, and in the report I mentioned above, indicate they've definitely seen a difference in the local results.

My Findings

Although there's no news of the new algorithm change affecting searches outside the US, I did put together several ranking reports today for a few Canadian clients of mine. The results indicated there wasn't much of a change but there were some minor (1 to 5 spot) drops across the board.

For one of my clients in the US. I found that 22.4% of their keywords saw an increase in rankings by 1 to 5 spots, but mostly 1 and 2 spots. I also found a 18.9% decrease of 1 to 5 spots for a portion the keywords as well. Overall 58.6% of the ranking results didn't change and at the moment this is a good indicator that there isn't much to be concerned about.

With respect to traffic, compared to last week on this day, there was a 36.96% drop in organic traffic, a 100% increase in "Direct" and a 0% increase in referrals. This report by no means is a true reflection of these potential traffic and ranking changes especially considering ten searches last Saturday with a specific term, doesn't mean there will be ten searches with the same terms today. Not to mention there was a new study released this week by Gene McKenna of Groupon indicating that up to 60% of direct traffic is indeed from organic searches. So we'll see.

My advice

At this time if you've found yours or your clients' traffic and rankings have fallen, I suggest you don't do anything different, and do not change anything on your site. Right now, there's really no reason to unless your site has fallen from the search results completely or you've seen a substantial and dramatic drop. Let the dust settle for at least a few weeks because things may bounce back. This advice is based on my experience so I'll leave it up to you to decide.