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August 22, 2014

The 101 on Google’s Pigeon Update: What You Need to Know

Photo Credit: … intense look …. a little scary! by Laura Pontiggia Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Google and their animals (or birds) lately. You might have already heard about Google Pigeon, or at least have seen the name floating around online. Just what is this update? Was it a web content update? Let’s take a look at just what pigeon is, how it will affect you, and just how you can start writing perfect content that Google Pigeon will adore (think breadcrumbs on a street).

Wait, What Is Google Pigeon?

It really does seem like Google is constantly releasing new algorithm updates, and it is starting to get quite confusing for many. We have Search Engine Land to thank for coining the name ‘pigeon’ for this fairly significant update which tailors local search results for consumers, making it easier for them to find something in their area.

While it is a local search update, it does actually count web content in the changes. This is because your web content needs to be location specific if you want to rank in local searches – makes sense, right?

How Is It Going To Affect You?

The update is mainly going to impact and affect your local search ranking. Link Assistant points out that unlike Penguin and Panda you will not receive penalties for your content, so you can relax on that score. It is, however, going to impact where your site appears in the SERPs when someone in your area is looking for a business that offers whatever you offer. For example, if you are a dog groomer in the Tulsa area, then someone searching for a dog groomer in Tulsa is more likely to find you.

How Should You Start Writing For Pigeon?

With these changes to local search rankings, you’re probably wondering just how to write for your web content and local listings.

1. Utilize Those Local Search Apps

The one thing that is definitely being boosted as a result of the Pigeon update is the ranking for companies that utilize local search apps; specifically Yelp. For awhile, Yelp had problems with how they were being represented in Google searches, but the Pigeon update rectified that.

2. Create Location Specific Content

This new update is all about location, location, location, which means you really need to boost or start working on that location specific content. Creating location specific content was crucial before Pigeon and it is even more vital now since it focuses so closely on local search results for Google users. If you haven’t already, you should start crafting some location specific material such as landing pages, to bring in those local search results. A few tips on getting the best results are to utilize long tail keywords and to have location specific landing pages.

3. Ask For Customer Reviews to Boost Your Local Reviews

Again, local search optimization is vital to this new update from Google, and one of the best ways to get noticed is to have customers review your shop on Yelp or other local apps. You can offer incentives to people when they come in and say, “If you rate our company on our Yelp account, you get an awesome free thing!” This could be a cinnamon roll if you are a bakery or a little gadget for other businesses. Just choose something fun that you know people will like! This can also help boost your review from the customers because they will be in a good mood after getting something awesome for free.

4. Have More Site Authority

As you’ve read multiple times in multiple blogs, site authority is important to ranking. In the Link Assistant article mentioned previously, the higher your site authority, the better your chance to rank in local Google searches. This is one of the great benefits of Pigeon, yet it can be detrimental to some sites with lower domain authority. Several ways to improve your domain authority is by getting rid of bad links, having a great SEO strategy in place, having excellent and likeable content, etc. Head on over to Quicksprout for an excellent guide on improving your domain authority. Remember, you really want to do this to rank well with Google Pigeon – so take some time to read over the guide and look at other industry resources.

5. Fill in The Gaps And Strengthen Those Profiles

It can be cumbersome to write in every little detail on your social media profiles, especially on G+ and the various local search applications available. Laziness, however, has its own pitfalls so fill in the gaps to strengthen your profiles by utilizing SEO, especially local search optimization.

In Closing

Google Pigeon is really going to benefit a lot of local search results and can definitely help bring in more customers if you have updated your content for local search optimization. This is something that will benefit all involved, so take this opportunity to improve your content and local listings. You’ll be glad you did!


Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.