Color-Pigeons-2007Google’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.

What I Learned About the Pigeon Update at SMX East 2014
Mary Bowling
Mary brings 10+ years of search marketing to her position as co-founder of Ignitor Digital. She also brings a passion and thirst for knowledge that drives her to search tirelessly for answers to questions surrounding local search data consistency issues for our clients. When not completely immersed in the internet, you can find Mary enjoying and exploring Colorado - usually by floating down a river somewhere!

One thought on “What I Learned About the Pigeon Update at SMX East 2014

  • October 27, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Thank you for publishing this article and information. We’ve often found it useful to refer hard headed clients to these types of articles when they argue over best practices. You’ve cited several points where we have instructed clients against their demands, i.e., long lists of cities, etc. This is useful!


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