The end of July saw Google launch its newest algorithm to date – lovingly called ‘Pigeon’ by the SEO community. Although yet officially unnamed, the update is likely to be one recognised as one of the biggest changes since Hummingbird came out in September.

The function of the Pigeon update

This latest update is not a spam change but its primary function is to change the way local search works. Changes were noticed by SEO experts straight away, giving a more useful, accurate and relevant spread of search results, which could have an effect on the ranking of local businesses, affecting their referrals, business and leads since the update.

What are the changes?

Changes will appear to all Google Web and Google Map users; however these changes will only be for those using the English search. There are 4 key changes that the Pigeon algorithm has provided:

1. Within Maps and the main search results, a search box will come up when local results are produced for the term which has been searched for. Examples of this are location names within searches, or terms related to a certain product that has been searched for.

2. The accuracy of location detection and GPS will be more accurate for users searching from mobile devices where location settings are used.

3. Reviews, mentions, local directories and citations will now be used when data from Google’s knowledge graph is related to the returned results.

4. When the term ‘Yelp’ is inputted into the search, it will prioritise local listings from Yelp more highly than the local listings from Google.

Google says that they are also increasing their use of search features such as spelling correction, synonyms and Knowledge Graph. Another new change is that secure HTTPS sites are now performing higher up in Google searches.

Things we don’t know yet

Google have not specified how many searches will see the effect of this update, as well as other features about the update that remain unclear. It is unknown as to whether this update will be spread across other countries or translated into other languages. Regardless of the uncertainty of further details of the algorithm, it is likely to at least help Google to tidy up their results.

Examples of how Pigeon works

Although we are uncertain of the exact nature of all changes made by the Pigeon algorithm, there are some changes which are obvious immediately. For example, local map results are now being incorporated into organic search, meaning that if you now type in “marketing agencies in London”, you will not see a map of results. You can even see the changes for yourself by simply asking Google “where’s the best place for breakfast near me?” from your phone or tablet. Another simple change which is significant straight away is that integration into Google Plus for Business ensures that your reviews will be published.

Find out more about Google algorithms

Google took a humorous approach to their new update, presenting us with an article which took the ‘Pigeon’ name very literally.

Find out more about Google’s previous Hummingbird algorithm by taking a look at ‘How Hummingbird Will Affect Your SEO Efforts’ and their Penguin update, by checking out ‘Pick up a Penguin – Best practise for Optimisation’.