Google Maps Disappeared Search 1On July 23rd, Google rolled out an algorithm change to how results pull up in search. It has been coined “Pigeon”. This update impacted Google+ local listings, how they pull up on a Google search page, and the local maps listings. If you are a local business with a storefront who relies on the little map on the Google search results page, you may have seen a decrease in visibility.

Important Local Listing Impact Stats

  • The real estate industry (one of the hardest hit) states a 63%+ decrease in appearance in local search.
  • Local maps results on Google search appear for 11% fewer search terms! (source: BrightEdge, Industry Specific Impact Google Pigeon Update)

Bow Down To Local Directories… Like Yelp

Local directories have increased in visibility with this change. Local directories are websites that gather and post information about local area businesses. Many of them encourage reviews or other social interaction. Yelp seems to have gained significant visibility with the change, making many business owners want to pull their hair out. Have a frustrating experience with unfair or outrageous Yelp reviews? You are NOT alone! Many business owners have similar issues. Unfortunately, it looks like Google finds Yelp to be a reputable resource for local area business search queries, so we have to play the Yelp game and do our best to manage Yelp reviews actively. It is now more important to make sure that the biggest local directories show accurate and consistent information about your business. The most vital local directory details are (but not limited to!):

  • Business Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Website URL

Many local business owners do not recognize the importance of a stellar profile image. Visual appeal is becoming more important every day in digital marketing. A strong profile image can easily attract a searcher’s wandering eye. Searchers will judge a book by its cover, as we all do when looking for new books! We need to jump on the visual train by fixing those first impression images of your business.

As a local business owner working with Lawton Digital Marketing, many of this probably sounds familiar. I have emphasized the importance of local directory listings, prominence of Yelp, and have dressed up your profile images. What was important before is now even more vital with Google’s release of the Pigeon algorithm change.

What else can you do?

If you lost enough traffic that your business is losing significant cash flow, turn to other channels to make it up. Launch Facebook ads, look at premium Yelp ads, or try out Google and Bing paid search listings. Are these channels more expensive than organic local search? Yep, they are. A wise man (my Dad!) once told me, it takes money to make money.

Finally, shift your focus away from dependency on the maps local listings and instead focus on the organic search results. Hit page 1 with strong on-site SEO.

Thank you to the following for providing valuable insight that helped create this article:
Business2Community’s Google Pigeon Latest Algorithm Update
BrightEdge’s Industry Specific Impact Google Pigeon Update”
Examiner’s The New Pigeon Update From Google Has Made Organic Search Take Flight