Google Pigeon Rolls Out in UK
December 28, 2014
By now most webmasters will be aware of the Google Penguin update, which targets link schemes and manually created backlinks that have been put in place to manipulate search rankings. They should also be aware of the Panda update, which aims to properly handle websites that hold content with an overabundance of keywords or sites that host many thin pages that don’t offer a good user experience.
Many will also have heard of the Hummingbird update, which aimed to provide superior results relating to semantic searches. Semantic searches are those that are generally asked in question format, such as searches made using software such as Siri or the recently release Cortana.
What many may be unaware of is the Pigeon update. Unlike its cousins, Pigeon aims to provide better results for locally made searches, ensuring that businesses that operate in the region where the search is being made from have a higher probability of achieving higher rankings for that particular searcher. The update was rolled out in the United States back in July and now, after a little bit of tweaking, Google has announced that it is ready to go in the UK.
A spokesperson for the company told Search Engine Land: “I can confirm that this update has rolled out to the UK, Canada and Australia.”
The aim of the update, as mentioned is to provide more useful and relevant results for searches such as “restaurants in Central London”, which should return mostly results for that particular area, rather than all of London or the UK as a whole. Furthermore, the update is likely to use the locality of the user in searches where they haven’t specified an area.
However the update is also closely ties in to more traditional ranking signals, which means that webmasters are still under something of an obligation to ensure that the content on their site is accurate and well-written and that they aren’t attempting to manipulate the search engine in any way.
It is expected, perhaps unsurprisingly, that local merchants will be the ones who are mainly affected by the alterations. This will include small shops and the likes of restaurants and other locally owned businesses. Assuming their sites reach other quality standards they should see an improvement in rankings for searches made in the local area.
On the flip side, international organisations and companies that are perhaps only slightly relevant to the area specified in the search or by the searcher’s location, may see their rankings negatively impacted.
The company has stated that they have not yet completed the rollout, so companies may have to brace themselves for a fairly turbulent couple of weeks in regards to the search rankings, especially if they operate in a small area.
The move goes to further cement Google’s efforts to provide the most useful search results for users and reflects a desire on the part of the company that prevent the need for sifting through companies that are outside the area range of the searcher. Furthermore, it means that SEO will have to be focused less on attempting a single overall ranking for a keyword, with webmasters having to consider what effects such local searches may have that may go unseen to them.