Google Pigeon took flight in July 2014, and has elevated the local search to an altogether new level of accuracy and specificity. However, this does not mean that the Pigeon is perfect – like with any other algorithm update, Pigeon has its flaws, but there is no denying the fact that it has made local search results more accurate.

Here is everything you should know about Google Pigeon.

The Launch

Google Pigeon was launched on July 24, 2014 in the US. Since then, Google has rolled out the update in the UK, Australia, and Canada.  The update has shaken the local search landscape and modified the way Google handles location clues. Also, it has dramatically altered several local results. While some businesses witnessed their rankings improve, others saw their listings disappear from local search results.

Google says that Pigeon has established close ties between its core algorithm and local algorithm. There were reports that Google launched an updated Pigeon algorithm on August 1. However, Google did not confirm this officially.

Effect on search results within Google Web Search and Google Maps Search

Earlier when people searched Google and Google Maps, they used to get very different results. This has changed now because Pigeon connects Map Search and web search better.

Pigeon ties traditional ranking signals with local results

After Google launched Pigeon algorithm, local results have become similar to Google web search results. Pigeon leverages a lot of ranking signals. It also possesses spelling correction capabilities and uses Google’s knowledge graph and synonyms.

Yelp-Specific queries now provide more accurate results

In mid 2014, Yelp had accused Google of showing Google’s own reviews ahead of Yelp’s even when users included the word ‘yelp’ in their queries. The Pigeon has fixed this issue. Other local directories and review sites have also improved their visibility in search results.

The Pigeon is the most significant local search update that Google has launched. The new algorithm has also improved Google’s location and distance ranking parameters. As a result, Pigeon returns more specific and accurate results for queries that use both the colloquial and conventional terms for a neighborhood.

Businesses that have keywords and citations focused on specific neighborhoods now enjoy greater visibility in local search results. By simply optimizing your citations, social profiles, and Google Plus profiles in such a way that they reflect your exact location in a city, town, or neighborhood; you can improve your rankings. Some businesses seem to have been hit hard by Penguin. Some common themes that have lost their local rank because of this update include the following:

  • Mold removal
  • DUI attorney
  • DUI lawyer
  • Emergency plumber
  • Real estate/realtors

Not quite good at spotting spam

It looks like Pigeon is not adept at detecting spam. After Google launched the update, there were several complaints that spammy sites had taken top rankings in search results. But Google seems to have sorted out most of these issues. A large number of spammy listings have disappeared from its search results now.

The Pigeon is not perfect, but Google has certainly made it better since its initial launch. The update hasn’t been launched worldwide.