Google released yet another update back on July 24th, and the search results fluctuated so much that nobody really knew what it specifically affected.
It wasn’t given an official name by Google, but the guys over at searchengineland named it ‘pigeon’, to keep up with the common ‘P’ based animal theme that the updates were using in the past.
Here’s what we know about the update:
• It is a change to the algorithm as a whole. It is not a penalty-based update like penguin.
• It only initially affected local English queries in the US. (It is common for Google to roll out algorithm changes in the US first, and eventually push it out to all other areas at a later stage.)
• After the update, we are seeing less of the 7-box local listings which are given to certain sites that have setup Google places efficiently. (approximately 23.4% according to Mozcast)
• Directory sites are showing more often, likely due to the authority that these big sites have.
• Local businesses are beating big brands that are operating locally more than they did in the past. (A local pizza shop is more likely to beat dominos for a local pizza based search)
I wanted to give you something to take away and implement from this post, but this update has less solid data than any other we have ever encountered in the past.
Because the rankings are fluctuating daily even months after the update went live, it is hard to tell what the update specifically affected.
So if you feel that your site was affected negatively by the update- don’t panic! Remember that the SERPs are changing constantly and it’s really hard to tell if you were really hit or if it was just temporary.
We will jump into some basic local SEO tips now but note that these tips won’t be anything groundbreaking, just the same concepts that have worked for our clients and us in the past.
We notice that nobody else is offering any new strategy or concept to conquer this update either, so just focus on these essentials and sit tight:
• As always, focus on solid on-page optimisation practices, remembering to make it look natural to avoid an over-optimisation penalty.
• Use rich media like videos and images that are optimised for your keywords; Google favours sites with rich media.
• Do a Google search for your primary keywords. Do you see any big authority directories there? Are you listed? If not, try and get listed, but keep two things in mind:
1- It is essential that when you add your site to the directory that the details you use such as the address of the business match the details on your site. It will then count as a citation and you will get the full benefit. (citations are key for local SEO, so make sure you get these where possible)
2- Some of these authority directories will be a bit expensive. It is up to you to decide if they are worth the investment. You can analyse your competition’s links to see which authority directories they have used, too.
• Finally, make sure you are using high-powered links at the core of your strategy to rank in local SEO. We personally use private blog network links.