July 30, 2014 | Paul Jahn
Written with co-poster Sarah B Danks.
The other day, Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Land wrote a compelling article regarding what they are dubbing the Google Pigeon Update, which aims to deliver more relevant local search results. Scrolling through the comments on the article, it looks like some folks are happy about the update, some definitely are not, and a couple others even talked about penalized pages they tried to sneak through.
For quite awhile, Google had left marketing queries — such as “web design” and “ad agency” (with or without geographic location added) — out of their local pack search results. The Pigeon update seems to have brought those back:
The local packs do seem to be more relevant now. Although one of the results in the example above doesn’t fit geographically — notice Evolve Systems is located in St. Paul; not Roseville proper — overall the companies we’re seeing are located within the search parameters.
We did see relevant attorney searches, although we noticed the same anomaly Mike Blumenthal found regarding a decline in local search pack results. Our search for “lawyers Minneapolis” did show a local pack result, but some subsets within the legal industry — such as “DUI lawyers” — are not currently showing up in the local results. Speculation is out regarding why this and other terms are not showing up.
This brings up another point. While many companies in the web industry are rejoicing because their own listings are showing up in the local pack results again, does it have an adverse effect on some of their clients? Types of lawyers is just one example. What about an industry such as real estate, which has definitely seen a reduction in local pack appearance?
One commenter on the Search Engine Land post pointed out local searches for real estate agents were not showing up in the local pack. We checked it out today, and sure enough, they currently are not. This is definitely a flaw. The real estate industry is definitely one in which you want to be able to click on their local profiles, see where their offices are, view photos of homes they represent and check out their online reviews.
What’s the point of ditching some industries’ local pack results? Who knows…
Although, we noticed that with a slight variation in the realtor search, we could get a local pack to show up:
The floral industry has also changed with the Pigeon update. In recent past, we’d seen that local pack results in this industry were flooded with 800 number sites, which used fake addresses to get better visibility for local searches. Now, a search for simply “flower shop” returns very good local results:
Overall, Google’s Pigeon update seems to have improved the local pack. That being said, dropping the local results for certain industries seems to be a poor choice by Google. What’s the point? It’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues, reverses, or stays constant, because there’s sure to be backlash.
Wonder how Google will respond…