Google’s pigeon update has flown into the US allowing SEOs in the UK the chance to see how this will affect our clients here in the UK before it arrives.

While the UK is not currently experiencing these changes, invariably when the US starts to make changes, the UK is never far behind.

What is a pigeon update?

The Pigeon Update has been designed by Google to improve the accuracy and relevance of local search results.

The changes have rolled out to both the Google Maps search results and Google Web search results.

According to Barry Schwartz, Google released this update to “provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals.” This means that the search results will place a greater emphasis on the searcher’s location in traditional search results and Google Maps. Here is a before and after example from on Search Engine Roundtable on a search for [ice cream], which shows local results as more prevalent after the update:

Google’s pigeon update has flown into the US allowing SEOs in the UK the chance to see how this will affect our clients here in the UK before it arrives.

While the UK is not currently experiencing these changes, invariably when the US starts to make changes, the UK is never far behind.

 

google-pigeon-ice-cream-before-1406896872

 

 

google-pigeon-ice-cream-after-1406896872

 

 

How can we prepare for the Pigeon update?

Even though a number of directories have lost their high page rank, Google now gives more weight to a presence on Yahoo, Yelp and LinkedIn. Here are some things you can do to make sure you are prepared for the changes when they reach the UK.

  • Make sure you add your business and clients to local directories

By adding your site to directories you are increasing your chances of being found in local search. Many directories are paid however, some good sites are still adding listings for free, and it’s worth taking up the free options to start with so you have given your business or clients business a good start. There will also be directories within your own specific locality, or your vertical market. It’s always a good idea to look for these and list with as many of them as possible. Some directories imply membership of trade associations, so there are other benefits than just a web site listing. The easiest way to find your local directories is by Googling them.

You will now need your web site to rank in its own right for searches where you used to rely on the local listings. If you don’t already mention the locality in which you offer your services, then it’s a good idea to start adding this now.

If you are hoping for your site to rank more highly for “local” searches, then it will also need traditional SEO, which includes adding relevant new pages of content, and getting links from good quality and relevant web sites.

Reviews are becoming more important and help local results reach the top of the search results, so make sure this is one of the things you suggest to your clients or fellow business associates. Make sure you put the above strategies in place so you don’t get hit with Pigeon droppings.