The low-down on “Pigeon”, Google’s new algorithm update

It’s been a while; but Google is back with its latest algorithm update. First of all it was the attack of Penguin and Panda, then it was the Hummingbird update and now it’s the “Pigeon” – as nicknamed by Search Engine Land in the absence of any official naming by Google (what is it with animals?) In a nutshell, Pigeon is an update which focuses on delivering improved local search results – but with better distance and location ranking parameters.

Untitled - The low-down on “Pigeon”, Google’s new algorithm update

How does Pigeon Update work?

The aim is to provide more useful and relevant search results. Unlike Penguin and Panda, this isn’t a penalty-based update, looking to get rid of dodgy links and content. Instead, it’s a major change to the local search-ranking algorithm. Some of the search features include spelling correction capabilities, synonyms and Google Knowledge Graph, with Pigeon updating aiming to deliver improved search results.  The algorithm was officially launched on July 24th and at present the effects are only being felt in the US; but it’s likely to be rolled out globally during the next few weeks.


As with all updates, it’s hard to measure the results straight away. The day after the release, feedback was apparently mixed. Some businesses were reporting strong visibility in local listings, with others saying their rankings dropped away. Apparently Google was no longer even providing a local search pack (the results that show the business’ name, address, phone number and map) at all for some queries. This could ensure a better experience for users – as the ‘7-pack’ often wastes key front page results pages. Other feedback reported that local directory sites – often the larger ones such as Yelp – are getting better visibility in local search results. Users who don’t like directories and review sites could find this annoying, as could those who get annoyed having to go to page two to find direct links to local business websites.

Embracing Pigeon!

Like it or loathe it, this Pigeon update has happened and is here to stay. With the search industry still trying to grasp the full impact of Pigeon there are moves that local businesses and marketing companies can take into account. These include ensuring that your Google local listing is up to scratch to make sure your business comes up in a local 7-Pack. As well as this, focus on getting your business in directories and optimise the listing in order to make sure your business is on that page. You’ll also need to look at local directories that your business will fit into and a website optimised with local search phrases and one that has highly original content and is mobile friendly. Quotes and backlinks can also help to increase authority and visibility – and make sure your data is consistent.

We hope this information is helpful! Don’t panic about Pigeon – it’ all about making the necessary adjustments and working out how this latest algorithm can benefit you.

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