Google has recently released changes to its local search algorithm, since dubbed the “Pigeon Update” by the SEO industry.
The paint isn’t quite dry yet, but Google’s new “search squab” appears to tie local algorithmic search rankings closer to classic organic rankings by removing filters previously in place that often favored certain types of listings (i.e. Google+ Local). The Pigeon Update levels the playing field by insisting both algorithms now rely on more of the same ranking factors that dictate search engine results page (SERP) visibility.
What are the effects so far? In the days following the update, initial research has shown a decline in the frequency of local 7 pack results, an increase in the frequency of local 3 pack listings, and directory and business listing sites have begun to rise to the first page of results across a broad range of queries. It appears that Google is: 1) applying more web ranking signals to local search queries; 2) the radius for local results has been reduced; 3) a variety of directories have been added to the mix or given more prominence (Yelp, YellowPages, etc.).
What does the Pigeon Update and its effects mean for the auto industry? So far, very little. Auto-related queries have remained largely un-phased by Google’s latest algorithm change, and we have not seen a significant decrease in the frequency of local 7 pack results for related geo-modified searches. That doesn’t mean, however, that dealerships can simply kick back and trust that the search engines will always look out for the interests of automotive retail. As Google is always tweaking its algorithm to deliver the best results to users and protect its market share, there’s no time like the present to prepare your site (and web presence, in general) for an ever-changing search engine landscape.
To ensure your website visibility remains at the forefront of search results, follow these simple steps – some of which are long-standing tenets of Dealer.com’s SEO strategy – to let “the Pigeon know where to land”:
- Make sure that business profiles on major directories/aggregator sites are optimized. Yelp, Google+, YellowPages, DealerRater, etc. – They all need to have consistent business information such as web addresses, brand names and NAP (name/address/phone numbers). Great for human user experience and there’s also proof Google rewards such consistency.
- Add Schema.org markup to your site. Schema.org markup will help search engines connect the dots between where your business is located in proximity to the user – as well as many other benefits depending on the type of markup used.
- Incorporate hyper-local content. With Google’s search radius apparently becoming smaller, it may be a good idea to incorporate hyper-local content to send a stronger signal about where your business is located. For example, think about using relevant “colloquial” terms like, “South End,” “North Shore,” “Gaslight District,” etc.
While the Pigeon Update has largely untouched automotive retail, it has affected many other industries. Take the time now to optimize your site and web presence so when future algorithm updates come along there is no need to play catch up. Better yet, speak to your Digital Advisor today about how our team of automotive SEO experts can work for you so that you can stay focused on what matters most – selling cars.
Mark Wright is a Senior SEO Strategist for Dealer.com