Google Update Nicknamed ‘Pigeon Update’ Makes Major Local Search Changes

by Alex Graves
Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency

Changes happening in Google seems to be something that we all expect almost daily these days, however back on July 24th it seems that there was a little more going on than a simple ranking dance, especially within localised search engine rankings and it seems that Google have confirmed that they had something to do with it.

According to sources across the internet, Google made a major change to their local search algorithm that was designed to make a user have a better, more relevant experience while using their search engine to query terms that we considered to be local to them, including hotel placements, businesses and other services.

Although the search engine giants were willing to reveal that they had in fact made changes to their search algorithm, they were unwilling to give the update a name, leading to a circulation of various names but one created by SearchEngineLand author Barry Schwartz seems to be the one that has stuck industry wide as he made reference to the ‘Pigeon Update'.


As we know, the release of large scale algorithm changes has never been a seamless process for Google and it seems that there are always issues that arise along the way as the roll out happens, forcing them to quickly alter the algorithm further to prevent longer term issues along the line and eagle eyed Schwartz spotted that Expedia were now considered to be a hotel close to New York, rather than the hugely successful travel search engine brand that we all know then as.

Google have already broken silence about the update to inform the community that they are aware of a number of issues that have been encountered since the rollout of the algorithm, however pointed out that the results such as the one above were not what were expected and assured us that they were working on fixing these issues over time.

Although it seems that on a wider scale, Google misfiring results such as these result in updates being rolled back or retracted from the live search engine that we all see, however the message for Google on this one seems to indicate that they are happy with the outcome of the release in the most part and their "over time" mention of timescales to resolve the fact that you can book a night's stay at Expedia seems to be a minor issue in their eyes, so we can expect to see the update hanging around for the foreseeable future.

Looking into why the name ‘Pigeon' seems to have stuck seems to be more about the running trend of updates released by Google starting with the letter ‘P', with Google Penguin and Panda both already in existence. A blogpost by Barry on SearchEngineLand showed his reasoning behind the nickname that he assigned to the algorithmic change, saying "Pigeon is the name we decided on because this is a local search update and pigeons tend to fly back home."

Being a member of the search community myself, I have spoken to a number of other search professionals that have pointed out that the name is sticking, with clients asking them about the update and how ‘Pigeon' affects them and their businesses.

Although it is great to have a reference point to what the update is called, Google insist that there is no internal naming given to the release, so unlike Google Panda or Penguin, you shouldn't hear too much more about the update in relation to the name that has been given to it at the moment.

Have you found that your site has seen a down turn in traffic or search engine visibility on the 24th July?

Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency
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