At the Advanced SMX conference in Seattle I had already learnt that Google has turned up the dials on location targeting significantly, however just a few short weeks after, Google launches a major local search algorithm update that will impact natural search results as well as the Google Map Search listings.

Penguin Panda Hummingbird Pigeon images

What you should know about Google’s “Pigeon”

The name ‘Pigeon’ is not the formal name given by Google, but rather the name given to this new update by Search Engine Land: “Pigeon is the name we decided on because this is a local search update and pigeons tend to fly back home.” says Barry Schwartz.

The update was pushed out by Google on the 24th July 2014 in the US for English based queries. While there is no doubt that the update will spread to other countries, the exact timeline is unknown.

The update will mostly impact local businesses as Google incorporates more traditional search ranking variables, together with the new knowledge graph to provide more relevant search results for location-based search queries.

Local businesses should soon see either an increase or decrease in their rankings over the coming weeks and months as a result of this update.

Image showing local listings

How to feed the Pigeon

If you are a local business, then you should especially pay attention to these tips on how to optimise your website for location based (i.e. when someone searches for something by including a local modifier such as a town or suburb name, telephone extension or dialing code).

Optimising for Location-based search queries

Here are a few tactics that you can incorporate to help ‘feed the Pigeon’:

Add a location (Suburb, town or city) to your Title Tags, Description Tags, H1 (Headings) and URLs.
Incorporate mentions of location landmarks, street names or intersections and the area details in the body copy of your content.
Embed a Google Map pointing to your G+ Local Page into your website (e.g. on the contact us page) and make sure it is accessible within one click away from the homepage (either in the footer or from the main navigation menu).
Optimise your Google+ Page for location terms (and update your Google + Business Listing)
Get your developers to apply Geographical markup to your landing pages.
Set your geographical targeting in your Google Wemaster Tools account.
Make your Blog a local destination: Blog about your community, sponsor local events, create and/or be present in local guides and directories.
Make sure that your link building and Web PR strategy focuses on local websites.
Structure your social media content around local audiences.
Create a mobile responsive website.
Optimise for the Knowledge Graph (This is a topic we’ll cover in more detail next month).

Need help?

If you are feeling a little unsure or overwhelmed about these suggestions, then please contact Blue Magnet Digital to assist you in optimising for Google Pigeon (location-based search).