Adding to the animal-themed search algorithm updates by Google – Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin – if you haven’t heard, Google Pigeon has arrived. Pigeon is a local search ranking algorithm. Pigeon was released by Google July, 2014. It’s goal was to provide more accurate, relevant and useful search results to users. So how does Google Pigeon change local search?

Pigeon was released in response to the need to separate local search with global search because for local businesses, local search yields conversions. Since the Pigeon algorithm affects both Google Maps and web results, with Pigeon brands are seeing their sites drop in rankings, and drop in the amount of traffic sent their way. Business owners asked “why?” Simple.

Google Pigeon emphasizes the following three areas:

  • Web ranking signals, also more commonly called backlinks
  • Physical location of a business
  • Emphasis on Knowledge Graph results to provide more relevant results

The second point reveals that Pigeon places significant emphasis on the location of a business or brand, and the third point, in keeping with Google’s mission, emphasizes more relevant results to users. This is why Pigeon has changed local search. With Pigeon, Google interprets specific queries as “brand queries” and returns relevant results based on those queries. Google also sees desktop queries similar to mobile queries and returns results based upon location.

The Pigeon algorithm is so far the biggest local search update released by Google and it’s no secret: it’s designed to provide more useful local results. Pigeon has also improved distance and location ranking parameters for Google Maps, providing more accurate and specific location-based data. Oh and one other hint: Your Google My business page is now more integral to not only your rank but perhaps to the rank of others.

What’s next from here? Google has told us they will be updating the Penguin algorithm continuously, optimizing as they go:

That last big update is still rolling out — though really there won’t be a particular end-point to the activity, since Penguin is shifting to more continuous updates. The idea is to keep optimizing as we go.

All things considered, should businesses be concerned with the intricacies of the Pigeon algorithm and does Google Pigeon change local search? You betcha. Because at the end of the day, most of us want to rank high – and hold our rank – in the world’s most powerful search engine.