Google’s Updates usually settle in after a week or so, but the Pigeon has wobbled around and kept us all on our toes trying to understand what’s happened and how to react to it.
I recently attended a session on the Pigeon update at SMX East in NYC in which David Mihm, Andrew Shotland and Adam Dorfman shared their research and insights on Pigeon. Here’s what I learned from these 3 super-smart Local SEOs:
David Mihm’s Insight
There are now a few more 3 packs in the SERPS, substantially fewer 7 packs and more localized organic results.
Results are now much more localized with queries containing a geo term generally showing a smaller radius than those without a geo term.
Google has gotten much smarter about traditional web signals but is still having trouble with the Knowledge Graph. It’s also having a hard time understanding brands, which may account for the resurgence of spammy listings in the local results.
Domain authority and the quality of inbound links to the website are now much more important for ranking in the local SERPS than they have been in the past and proximity to the searcher, not any kind of centroid, now has a greater positive impact on rankings.
Andrew Shotland’s Insight
Andrew shared some data with us about his set of clients that showed while most of them lost traffic for fat head terms, they made it up in traffic for longer tail terms. Most also saw a boost in the number of leads they got from the Google results.
Among directory sites, he saw a change in traffic volume of about plus or minus 5%.
Adam Dorfman’s Insight
Adam looked at data across 5000 locations. Overall, his clients saw a decrease in traffic and conversions of about 5%, regardless of the length of the content on their local landing pages.
Businesses in smaller towns and rural areas were greatly impacted and now need to be within about 20 miles of the area searched in order to rank locally. Those in mid-sized markets and suburban locations may now need to be closer to the centroid in order to rank and those in large markets are greatly effected by a tighter radius for local packs.
If you’ve lot traffic from pigeon, Adam recommends backing off of anything that could be considered over-optimization in any form, including long lists of areas served. He also recommends concentrating on increasing domain and page authority and making sure your internal linking is doing its work on your site.