Blog Post

Changes to Local Search Algorithm

Recently, Google made changes to their local search algorithm, which was named Pigeon by Search Engine Land. Pigeon concentrates on local search results that are impacting U.S. English searches. Watch today’s Daily Brown Bag to learn about Pigeon, Pigeon’s impact on local search results and on local large directories.

Also available on YouTube.


Hello and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today we're going to be covering Google's recent updates to the local search algorithm that Search Engine Land has dubbed Pigeon. I'm Chad Hill and I'm joined by Adam Stetzer.

Good afternoon, Chad, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. So they've got a new algorithm update to report today, Chad. Those are usually big news. This one's a little different. It's only focused on local search results impacting U.S. English searches. And as you said, Google did alert Search Engine Land so we know it's official but the name Pigeon, I don't think that came from Google. That's just seems to be what people on the internet are calling it. So why the new update? Well, Google is trying to find ways to make their local search results more relevant and so they're tweaking the algorithm which they've done several times over the years.

They say the new algo is more closely tied to their regular web search remaining signals, which is a little confusing because I think we've spent several years talking about how local search has these special signals that are somewhat different than generic search signals. So the data we have in front of us, Chad, suggests that they're merging a little bit. And the algo is also supposed to really help around distance and location mapping to try to sort out some problems that they've had with local searches. So those are the things we know about Pigeon. What's the impact here for our reseller community?

Well, I think the biggest impact is going to be just around what people had started to rely on which was the seven pack map results. I think Google has changed that layout of the page a couple different times but it seems like in the last several months at least that we'd settled back on having maybe one or two organic listings and then a listing of local businesses that had a local search intent and then other organic listings. And now the big change here is that in many cases you're only seeing three results. Some suspect that that might be a little bit more mobile friendly for local search results because if you're on your mobile device, you have a lot less screen space to deal with. Others suggest that it just might be Google looking for local businesses to maybe have to shift more money to AdWords for local search. No one really knows exactly what's going on here but there are a couple of other interesting things that happened.

In all cases, realtors are now gone from the local search results and the same thing with DUI lawyers. So there's definitely some interesting things going on whether there are other things at play here with spam filters and whatnot, it's hard to say. But this is a big change in the local search space and we have seen Google kind of moving from category to category over the last couple of months. One other big update here for local search is that some of the local larger directories like Yelp and some of the Yellow page directories did gain in this change because what's happened is as those number of search spaces available for the specific businesses has gone away, some of those larger directories have now crept back in. So there's, again, some changes here in terms of just the power that some of those other guys are getting and placement that they're getting in the rankings. So we'll have to see exactly if Google comes out and does name this thing Pigeon, Adam. It sure would be interesting, kind of a bad name. But it does go with Panda and Penguin. We'll see what happens.

Yeah. So that's our coverage of the Pigeon update. We'd certainly be interested in what you're seeing in the local search results and what you think is happening. Please drop us a comment. We hope you'll subscribe because we do these Brown Bags every day. We'll see you tomorrow.

Pigeon by Searc..."/> Pigeon by Searc...">