Pigeon Update: Empowering the Local Directories

Google has apparently launched a new search algorithm specifically intended to provide better local search results.

When we talk about local search, this refers to queries that usually combine location and brand such as Nike Mong Kok or Yoshinoya Tseung Kwan O. Such queries have quite specific intent: locate the [brand name] in [location]. For someone searching for Nike Mong Kok, it is probably looking for a Nike shop in Mong Kok and not Nike brand with Mong Kok model. Likewise, SEO Hong Kong refers to SEO service in Hong Kong and not something else.

The new update reportedly helped refine results, notably for Yelp who has called out Google for allegedly screwing up its rankings by displaying Google’s local listing ahead of its supposed top ranking page, even when the keyword contains yelp in it, meaning the visitor has expressly showed he wants to see Yelp results displayed.

While the name was not an official term released by Google, Pigeon update loosely refers to the behavior of pigeons since Pigeon is “a local search update and pigeons tend to fly back home.” Note that this algorithm should not be misinterpreted the same way as PigeonRank the faux technology Google released in one April Fools day a decade ago.

The new update also reportedly helped promote listings for local directories, not just big players such as Expedia, Kayak and TripAdvisor.


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