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West Corporation

Posted on August 7, 2014 by West Corporation 


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Google’s “Pigeon” Update – An Attempt to Bolster Local Business’s Search Results

In late July, Google introduced the “Pigeon” update (as unofficially named by Search Engine Land) – an update that directly impacts organic listings within both Google Map and Google Web search. Google’s Pigeon update is being well received for the most part, however there are some flaws that will likely be fixed in the following search engine update.

Since the Hummingbird update last fall, there has been a lot of whining from local search directories like Yelp and TripAdvisor because of lack of visibility. Unfortunately for some local businesses, the Pigeon update has increased visibility for the aforementioned local directories, which has in turn hurt some local business search results. David Mihm, Director of Local Strategy at Moz had this to say about the update, “Perhaps in competitive industries where most companies have already maximized citations, reviews and user-generated content about their businesses, it is simply getting harder and harder for Google to identify the best of the best businesses by place-related signals? That defeatism seems decidedly un-Google, however.”

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Update Highlights
Although the update has received an influx of negative reviews from industry leaders, there are definitely some aspects that could benefit local business’s search results. Google never admitted that the update is directly correlated with local listings, however judging from those who have commented on Search Engine Land, there have been significant search result changes for local businesses. For example, two weeks ago if you were to search “ice cream” from your computer in Ridgewood, NJ, the results would be: Dairy Queen Suffern, NY, Baskin Robbins Suffern, NY, and Friendly’s Suffern, NY. Needless to say, these are three of the largest ice cream companies in the country, and they aren’t even in the same town from which the search originated. This week the results for the same search term “ice cream” searched from the same location in Ridgewood, NJ were: Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Ben & Jerry’s Ridgewood, and Van Dyke Ice Cream Shoppe. These are all located in Ridgewood and are much smaller businesses.

Some new and improved features that come with the Pigeon update include:

  • Spelling Correction – In an attempt to become more user-friendly, Google has improved its ability to see past spelling errors in searches. As a result, a company’s search results will not be jeopardized by a spelling mistake.
  • Synonyms – Google has enhanced its ability to recognize synonyms and rank search results accordingly.
  • Knowledge Graph – A feature added to Google in 2012 has now been updated to play a larger role in search engine rankings. Knowledge Graph provides structured and detailed information about the topic in addition to a list of links to other sites. The goal is that users will be able to use this information to resolve their query without having to navigate to other sites and assemble the information themselves.

knowledge graph

The Pigeon update is nothing major, hence the term “update”. However, it has improved some features that will undeniably help ensure that the user receives the information he or she is searching for. Although Google’s intention to boost search rankings for local businesses is under some scrutiny, many small businesses have actually reported a significant increase in search traffic over the past two weeks.

Overall, the update has produced a mixed bag of reviews, but the major takeaway should be that Google is making an effort to help businesses that have forever been hidden in the shadows of the larger corporations. This is a step forward for Google and for all local businesses that wish to see better search rankings.



As an Account Executive at Wpromote, Megan is responsible for assisting clients with their search engine marketing needs. While helping clients become recognized in search engines is an integral part of her job, she is also a regular contributor to the blog. In her spare time, Megan enjoys Dodger games and trying out new recipes like chocolate chip cookie dough truffles! Learn more about Wpromote at TeleVox.Wpromote.com


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