So on the 24th of July, Google rolled out another new algorithm update, this time affecting local searches. The algorithm update, aptly nicknamed "Pigeon" by Search Engine Land, has been created to give more accurate searches for local businesses, giving businesses better visibility in organic search. So why has this update happened?
Well, local listings will now be set out in the results section, similar to where you'd expect a website to be, with less favouritism being placed on "Google my business". There has been a lot of speculation over why Google have released this update, most believe that it was due to Google's own directory "My Business" appearing higher in Google rankings than other online directories, even when people include the directory in with the search of the business. This was commonly known as the "Yelp problem" as Yelp noticed that there search prominence had dropped with the integration of Google places in 2012, it was thought that Google may be manipulating rankings so Google places appeared higher (bad Google).
How does this affect your business:
- The update increases the visibility of online directories in organic search results. So if your business is in one of the big directories like Yelp, Yahoo, Yellow pages etc. there's a higher chance of you getting found. Not only this, but pubs, restaurants, hotels etc will be able to be found a lot easier through sites like TripAdvisor.
- The good news is that if you are in these directories and have put the effort in to be part of these network,s this update will benefit you massively. The bad news is if you aren't in online directories you may struggle more with your ranking visibility.
So what can you do to reap the benefits of "Pigeon"?
Refine Your Listings
Google analytics is a great tool, do your research and see where you're getting the most referrals from (referrals in Google are where people click through from a different site, for example they see your listing on Yelp and click on the link which sends them through to your site) and focus on these directories. Google my business is not as prominent as it was, but by all means don't ignore it, it still carries a heck of a clout, your business will appear in the maps section of Google and who knows when a new algorithm change will happen.
Get in the big listings
The big listings have the best visibility, so make sure you get your business in there. Here's a great article that gives 50 of the best local business directories.
Don't neglect your own website
Although directories may feature higher than your website in the rankings, that doesn't mean you should neglect your website, or the SEO strategy for your website. It's the face of your business and what customers are going to click through to from directories. Who knows, in a few months Google may shake it all up again. Be consistent and have a clear strategy in place that incorporates directories. More tips can be found in my other SEO blogs.