local-search-resultsLocal search had been spared much volatility following the Hummingbird update last fall, but that's all changed now with the arrival of the Pigeon update.

Aimed at bettering local search results and tying local results more closely to standard web ranking signals, Pigeon is still being weighted as to its effects on local sites. A few of the more obvious changes are noted here, but in general, first impressions seem to be indicating that large brands and sites that are not true local sites are not faring as well.

Let's take a look at 3 ways Pigeon is apparently impacting local search, and what if anything there is to do about it.

3 Initial effects Pigeon is having on local search

  • Strong brand directories are winning – Directories like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Yellowpages.com are seeing an up to 10 percent bump up in traffic and rankings, often showing up multiple times for a local search.
  • Smaller map radius – The view shown by Maps is now in many cases much smaller, reducing the number of businesses found in an area, and consequently opening the door for more directory results in order to have something to show at all. This makes it problematic for locations just outside the exact search area to be seen as a choice in a neighboring locale search.
  • Phasing out of the 7 pack – Far fewer local search terms are benefiting from the increased visibility of the 7-pack. While larger search terms still show this, most now show a 3-pack with a reduced map radius, or nothing at all. The real world traffic loss experts are reporting that a local business not showing up any longer in the map pack is losing 16 percent a month. Quite significant.

As the Pigeon update plays out and the feathers quit flying, and goes through a few incarnations, it will be more clear what the lasting impact will be for your local search results. Right now, making sure you are optimizing your local directory listings for all they're worth appears to be your best defense.