We were ‘lucky’ enough to receive an early Christmas present from Google here in the UK. Not a partridge in a pear tree, but a Pigeon. Other English speaking countries also received the gift of the Pigeon, including Canada and Australia, after trials in the USA some six months ago.

Yes, Google updated its algorithms with this not-so-cute feathered friend just before the festive season to make local searches more effective. This particular change as far as can be seen, is to assist local searches bringing desktop more inline with mobile.

It seems the Pigeon may reduce the breadth of his choices of local searches and display just three suggestions instead of the earlier seven. The differences focus on the use of Google’s new or classic maps respectively. You’ve probably guessed already that most mobile devices favour the new maps.

A game of chance?

Like all of Google’s gifts, the Pigeon arrived with no instructions. Once again Google throws us a challenge just like those end-of-year-quizzes and expects us to find the answers. However, ignore Google’s offerings at your peril as you will surely lose your search engine ranking too.

Google’s Pigeon, like its predecessors, takes a little time to settle down which makes experts, even us at Giant Peach, loath to offer categorical advice. Basically, the answer seems to be ‘keep your eyes and ears open for Pigeon cheeps’ and you’ll soon get the measure of Google’s latest offering.

What has been spotted so far

Unlike Hummingbird, it seems there are some signs that the Pigeon prefers to link to more traditional SEO ranking messages and he’s particularly interested in local searches.

Typically the Pigeon should make finding local businesses easier. For example ‘gastro-pubs in Salisbury’ or ‘dentists in Southampton’. However, if your business is outside of city boundaries don’t be surprised if you get shown the cold shoulder and aren’t included in the search results.

Yes, there are some suggestions that the Pigeon’s local search area is tighter than previous local searches – despite its ability to fly for miles. The good news is that listings on local business directories, such as Yelp or yell.com, seem to help the Pigeon find businesses though.

There are also signs that he doesn’t always discriminate fairly. Searching for mobile phone repairs in a local vicinity is a case in point. It seems to bring up any old repairs in the area rather than specifically mobile phone repair services.

But hey, it’s early days and the Pigeon may go in for a little ‘retraining’ before the year is out.

The way forward

The Pigeon is here to stay like all of Google’s earlier gifts, but don’t forfeit good content for local search strategies.

At Giant Peach we’d always recommend well written, original content which engages and attracts customers. This will ensure that you are seen as an authority in your field and guarantee good SEO ranking. Another important factor is consistent contact details that are accurate. A no-brainer really.

Promoting your local references via social media is also high on the list of good practice too.

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