Google’s “Pigeon” Release : What You Need to Know

Local SEO - Pigeon ReleaseGoogle SEO Changes: Local Search – Silent but Important Changes

In the past few days, Google has silently rolled out changes to their search algorithm that have a direct impact on local search. Many search experts have dubbed this the “Pigeon” release. Unlike previous Google releases, this update was fairly silent. However, this update may have a significant effect on your business. To find out more, as well as what you can do about it, read on.

What is Local Search?

To clarify, “Local Search” is an industry term used to refer to the component of Google searches that takes into consideration your specific location. For example, if you type “pizza” into Google search, Google will prioritize “pizza” establishments that are closest to you. This prioritization applies to your website, social media pages and review sites (as well as those of your competition). Exactly what shows up first, second or third on Google’s search result depends on Google’s search algorithm. Google updates its algorithm a few times a year and this time, the update had a noticeable effect on the Local Search results.

Summary of Changes

  1. Google “Listing Packs” disappear
  2. Search results depend more on website authority
  3. Ranking boost seen for (non-Google) review sites

Google “Listing Packs” disappear

The most noticeable difference in the recent update is the disappearing act of the “Google Listing Pack”. This was a frequent component of search results. These listing “packs” could be seen in a grouping of related listings. The group previously would include anywhere from 2 to 7 related listings. Of course, clicking on the local icon would take you to the related Google+ page for that business. While listing packs still appear on some searches, it appears far less frequently.

At the same time, it also appears that the Google Carousel is slowly gaining more visibility. In the examples provided here for the search term “coffee reviews, Los Angeles”, you can see how the Google Listing Packs that appeared in previous searches, no long appear. Most noticeable is the prominence of the Google Carousel in the results of this particular term.

coffee reviews los angeles

coffee

Website Authority

Traditional search results (i.e. non-Local search) use the “website authority” in their calculation. Website authority has many factors, including quality content, diverse quality backlinks, social activity, and website age. Relevant textual information on your site that includes the category of your business, description of services provided and, in the case of local search, the address and city of your business. Now your website, for your local business, will be more subject to the “Website Authority” rules for traditional Search Engine Optimization.

Review Site Rankings Increase

Google refers to Review Sites as “Local Directories.” Examples of these “Local Directories” include Yelp, TripAdvisor, RateMDs, HealthGrades, and many more. It appears that Google Local Search now prioritizes these “Local Directories” higher in their search results. You may find that search results for your business may show more of these local directories.

What Should You Do?

The results for every business will vary based on dozens of factors. However, there are several good practices that you should maintain to stay ahead of the competition and get better local search results. These include maintaining consistent listings on prominent review sites in your category, getting more reviews, maintaining positive reviews and harvest a steady stream of new reviews from your customers/patients/clients. ReviewInc’s services help monitor all of these factors which you can read more about in this recent article: There is New Life in SEO.

Final Note

Inevitably, expect more changes from Google. However, if you maintain good practices, you will not only be unaffected, but you may benefit when Google makes their next change.

 

 

Review Site Series: Category-Specific vs. Multi-Category Review Sites

For this edition of our Review Site Series, we wanted to focus on category specific vs. multi-category review sites. Many review sites only focus on one category such as Cars.com, but there are a variety of others that support multiple categories, such as Yelp.

We are split on this topic. On the one hand, focusing on one specific category allows a review site to zero in on their niche market. On the other hand, it drastically narrows down the potential number of businesses supported.

If a review site is able to focus in on just one market, it allows them the opportunity to really perfect it. But it is not without its flaws. For example, what if a review site was dedicated to wine & spirits merchants, how would they determine whether to include a business like Wal-Mart which sells wine & spirits, but also a plethora of other things?

Supporting a listing of several different categories widens the horizon for any given review site, and also gives small to large businesses more opportunities for exposure, and in turn, hopefully sales.

It also gives consumers who are avid about writing reviews a central location to write reviews on all their favorite (or not-so-favorite) businesses without having to jump from one review site to the next.

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer category-specific or multi-category review sites? If you were/are a business owner, do you think you would have that same opinion? Let us know in the comments below!

Review Site Series: Deceptive Advertising on Review Sites

Advertising

As we all know, advertising is what makes the web go ’round. But when can advertising become prohibitive?

Many review sites offer advertising packages to the businesses that have listings on their site. These advertising packages may include anything from top banner ads, side banner ads, and sometimes ads smack-dab in the middle of the page.

Many times, when you are searching for a business, you may find a highlighted business name just above the search results you are looking for. This may lead you to believe that this highlighted search result is the business you were looking for all along. I know that I have personally made that mistake a few times before.

citysearchads

At ReviewInc, we feel that placing an ad in the center of the business listing is a little distracting and misleading. When ads are placed on the top or sides, it is typically understood that they are advertisements. However, when they are included in search results or in the center of a business listing, it may lead the consumer to believe that the business associated with the ad is the one they were looking for initially. Smart if you think about it, but also somewhat deceptive.

So what are your thoughts on ad placement within a business listing on a review site? Do you think that it is bothersome or does it not really matter to you? Do you think that strategic ad placement is misleading or beneficial to businesses? Let us know in the comments below!