As a brand marketer you may have noticed some movement lately in your local partner's rankings for localized searches because of a recent Google algorithm update. Google is striving to improve results for local queries with the update nicknamed Pigeon. Search engines are constantly looking to give the best user experience possible, and this latest update is looking to give even more useful and accurate information to searches with local intent.
These changes have made a big impact in local results rankings, which has some experts scratching their heads as to what ranking factors were changed. Google doesn't like to disclose the details or parameters taken into account in its algorithms, after all this is a highly guarded trade secret and not even Google employees know it. As marketers, all we can do is observe, measure the changes over the last couple of months and deduce the new ranking parameters and their importance to the algorithm. With this information we can start to make actionable recommendations to improve local partner’s web presence.
Based on current observations, the biggest effect is increased visibility for sites such as Yelp, YellowPages and other local directories in organic results. It also negatively affected the number of queries displaying local business listings with the business name, phone number and address known as the 7-pack. However, this change was not spotted for all categories and some corrections are expected from Google due to spam listings that have reappeared after previous Google penalties.
What Can My Brand Do?
With this update Google is trying to shine a light on local businesses. What are customers going to see for local stores in your brand’s network? Disorganized outdated online information, or well-presented actionable business information and content? This opportunity can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the status of your local partner's information online. Try some localized searches and assess the state of the local listings that appear for your network. If there is a lot of incorrect information, you will need to create a system wide plan to update directory information for all locations. Consumers rely on search engines for accurate information, but if you are feeding it with outdated information you are by extension providing your customers with bad information.
Determine what directories are ranking well in your business vertical and make sure all of your local partners are present. As mentioned above this latest update has increased the visibility of Yelp, YellowPages, and some of the other large directories. Make sure your businesses are present in these directories to leverage their domain authority.
When Google makes an update like Pigeon, many small businesses and large brands alike scramble to change their tactics to maintain high visibility in the search engines. As a brand marketer you have the opportunity to shape how all of your locations engage online. Make sure that you are following best practices by implementing verification and accuracy checks at scale to ensure that your network is well presented. Making it easy for customers to find your local partners has obvious benefits, so take a look at your brand’s presence in the search engines post Pigeon update and don’t miss this opportunity to improve.