On July 24, 2014, Google released a new algorithm update. While not officially named by Google, the update has been dubbed “Pigeon” by Search Engine Land, and is considered a major update, rolling out significant changes to Google’s local search algorithm.
This algorithm update mainly affects local searches (current in the US), taking into account factors that determine on-site content quality, as well as the layout of some local searches and off-page ranking factors.
Ranking Algorithm Factor Changes
The update appears to focus on improving and adding to previous on-page signals such as synonyms, spelling, and overall quality of content, as well as off-page factors.
There have also been noticeable ranking improvements for websites that have higher quality local links, especially if the name, address, and phone number are listed and correlate with the Google+ local listing.
Many directory websites have also seen improvements in local ranking, which goes along with the emphasis on local NAP links.
Google seems to have also made some changes that affect a few niches directly. One change we noticed is that Google now shows Google+ Local results for web design companies. When searching “Raleigh web design”, TheeDigital now shows in the Google+ local results:
Furthermore, Google+ local map results seem to not show for websites in the real estate industry, although this does not affect organic rankings.
Google has also removed a large portion of image related markup. Before the update, if a website was formatted correctly, it would show author images, as well as video thumbnail images.
Google Authorship images have been removed entirely, and a majority of the video thumbnail images are now showing. The video thumbnail images that show are generally on higher authority websites, and even then, very few show up.
Takeaways From Pigeon
This update goes along with the progression towards making search less spammy (no image markup), and more focused on providing relevant, quality content that people want to share.
If you are not executing a web design and internet marketers strategy that combines providing quality, relevant content with authoritative link building, you should start now, otherwise your customers may not be able to find you online as Google continues to evolve their algorithm.