In an effort to further improve the user experience for its local search results, Google has updated its algorithm yet again. Some are calling this update the Pigeon update, but Google has not officially released a name for it and it doesn’t seem like they will.
Naturally the purpose of the update is to provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results, but Google has also said the update should improve their distance and location ranking parameters. Because of the update local businesses may experience an increase or decrease in traffic and leads.
The algorithm update is quite timely and many believe it’s a direct response to Yelp’s complaint from earlier this month. Yelp recently presented examples of Google+ local listings appearing first in search results even when the word “Yelp” was included in the search query. Yelp stated that Google “appears to be intentionally serving up search results that contradict the users’ intent.”
The update may actually be an acknowledgement by Google that there was a flaw in the local search results that were being delivered. Since the update Yelp is #1 organically for the search queries they provided as part of their complaint.
In the last few months we have noticed fluctuations in local search results and Google has even “softened” its Panda algorithm to help small businesses compete for rankings. Rankings were starting to stabilize but if you’re a local business you should expect to see these fluctuations continue. At this rate it’s tough to say when Google will slow down on its updates and let local search results stabilize.