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Pigeon: Google’s Local Search Update and Impact on Hospitality Marketing

Published: Aug 15, 2014
Google's pigeon update 2014

Google's pigeon update 2014 Google announced last week one of its biggest local updates yet, which Search Engine Land has coined as “Pigeon” update (note, this is not Google’s official name for the update).  

Here is a simple breakdown of what Pigeon entails:

The “Pigeon” update is an update to Google’s formula that  determines who ranks where on their search engine results page (SERP) specifically in terms of local-based search queries (ie. when someone searches geo local keywords such as “Hotels in San Francisco”). Pigeon was released on July 24th and so far has had some pretty significant effects on the local SERPs.

Here are the three main things we’ve noticed from Pigeon:

  1. Better visibility on the SERPs for local businesses (this is great!),
  2. Higher ranking on the SERPs for local directories like Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Urbanspoon (this is also great assuming you’ve taken the time to optimize your listings on these directories),
  3. The removal of the 7-packs in the SERPs for many business categories (not necessarily a bad thing, but probably the most noticeable change for most people).

Image Source – Search Engine Land

Google Carousel Before and After Pigeon

Old 7-pack before Pigeon Update

If you’re wondering how this affects your hospitality marketing strategies and business, the good news is it should help local businesses. For the most part, this update should make a lot of local businesses become more visible to their potential customers, and since local directories are even more prevalent on the SERPs, it’s now more important than ever to make sure all of your business’ profiles are fully optimized (especially on Google+/My Business and Yelp).

Looking at Pigeon with an SEO perspective:

  1. Local search directories and vertical-specific directories are getting higher visibility,
  2. Website authority is directly linked with Google’s local search results,
  3. Having consistent name, address and phone number helps in improving consistency of data,
  4. Having high-quality pictures and good reviews helps in local carousels rankings.

Google Carousel Pictures and Reviews

We have already seen an improvement in the quality of search results compared to the results from the original launch of Penguin a few weeks ago, so it looks like they are moving in the right direction.

With the rise in the number of smart phone users and the rise in local based search queries, it makes sense that Google is putting an emphasis on improving their local SERPs and making it easier for Googlers  and local businesses to find each other.  Hospitality marketing is inherently local in nature and the Pigeon update reinforces the importance of local search, local search is not a trend but a staple in SEO.

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Contributed by Austin Harthun, Digital Marketing Strategist

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