New findings are being reported by Search Engine Watch on the true impact Google’s latest algorithm “Pigeon” has had on local businesses in search results. Pigeon was released on July 24, 2014 and has been the biggest Google algorithm change to date for local search results. The new algorithm was released to provide more accurate, useful, relevant information for users seeking local search results. Additionally, Pigeon was launched to fix an ongoing problem with displaying Yelp profiles in Google search results. Now when a user types in “yelp” at the end of a query, an associated Yelp profile will appear at the top of results.

Lastly, the update promised to be unnoticeable to users, but business owners were warned they could expect an increase or decrease in site referrals and leads. Turns out that the Pigeon algorithm affects businesses more positively than others.

Who Benefited from the Pigeon Update?

According to BrightEdge’s data taken from June to August, there was an uptick in results for queries related to:

  • Hospitality (28% growth in Google Places results)
  • Food (19% growth in Google Places results)
  • Education (13% growth in Google Places results)

Additional topics in queries that saw a boost included Spa (+4.64%), Shop (+4.32%), Law (+3.55%), Medical (+1.83%), Transportation (+1.31%), and Fitness (+1.2%).


Who Did Pigeon Negatively Impact?

According to the same data set, queries that were negatively being impacted by the algorithm update included topics such as:

  • Jobs (68% decline in Google Places results)
  • Real Estate (63% decline in Google Places results)
  • Movies (36% decline in Google Places results)
  • Insurance (11% decline in Google places results)

Other topics in queries that were negatively impacted were Finance (-6.21%), Furniture (-3.34%), and Government (-0.07%).

What Should Businesses Do?

Are the above results concrete? Not exactly; it just proves that Pigeon has settled in its “nest” quite yet. It’s best not to panic but, instead, practice some tried-and-true methods for increasing visibility in local search results with some old-fashioned local SEO best practices:

This includes:

  • Being listed in Google My Business
  • Being listed in top directories such as Yelp and Merchant Circle
  • Creating a location-focused content marketing strategy
  • Adding traditional on-page SEO to your website
  • Continuing an engaged and active social media presence
  • Managing and monitoring online listings on a regular basis

Search Engine Watch also recommends hyperlocalization, which means including neighborhood indicators in your local SEO strategy. Especially if the Pigeon update is improving distance and ranking parameters. This means that Houston listings won’t start at the epicenter for everyone, Google will do a better job listing results closer to your neighborhood on the west side of the 610 Loop in Houston, for example.