On the same day we talked about stability in the search rankings, Google took a big new blender, turned it on high power and dropped their local search results into it.
What is “Pigeon”
Pigeon is a new local search algorithm implemented by Google. Pigeon is the name given to the algorithm by marketers, not Google themselves. The goal of this algorithm change was to include the numerous ranking signals they use in web search in local search. They also wanted to implement search features such as their Knowledge Graphs, spelling corrections, synonyms among other features. While I don’t know that Google expected just how much this would shake up some industries’ traffic, it has. Google declined to comment when asked if this update to local also included spam prevention measures (I personally expect it does).
What have we noticed so far
Google now appears to do a better job of determining when a user really wants a local search result. Many statewide search terms we have looked at no longer deliver the extensive local results they once did. Many now return zero local results or a much smaller batch (roughly 3). We also saw rankings increase in the legal niche for local search directories (something we have long prioritized having correct information).
Update coming next week
We will provide further details this upcoming week on the Pigeon update after we run more tests this weekend.