Pigeon – An Anecdotal Impact Report

The recent Google Local Update (aka Pigeon) was very disruptive. Although as I wrote at the time and reiterate, only when we actually look at measurable results can we both understand its actual impact and perhaps understand more of what was happening and what changes Google has made.

There were two main parts to the update as expressed by Google:
– Local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals.
– The new algorithm improves their distance and location ranking parameters.

My tea leave translation of that?
– We are moving the algos that dictated page and location prominence closer together. We are integrating brand preferences and entity rank into our main algo and using more of that as a common ranking process across both the web and local results.

-We are better able to ascertain location in both mobile and desktop environments and have, for the most part drawn smaller radius around the presumed location of the searcher from which to draw the local search results.

From where I sit, the first part of this change has been happening for a while and as David noted at SEL was largely seen first with the Hummingbird roll out.

It also appears to me that the improvements to their distance and location ranking parameters  and the attendant redrawing of the local boundaries, at least on the desktop, is actually causing the more dramatic shifts in measurable desktop results.

Barbara Oliver & Co Jewelry (and others that I have looked at as well) was strongly impacted by that second change. The search radius, which had previously expanded to include the shopping suburbs of Buffalo (Williamsville, Amherst etc) had once again contracted to just include the city of Buffalo proper. You can see this when you do a search like Jewelry Buffalo. Google had effectively reduced the diameter of the search radius from 12 to 6 miles


The impact of the reduction in local Pack visibility for Barbara is obvious in Google’s My Business Insights with reduced impressions:


But Barbara Oliver has always done well organically and the loss of the Pack results still have left many of her organic results above the pack on that same search. So what happened there?

When we compare the last 9 days (since the update) to the previous 9 days and drill into her primary geography we see a somewhat different, more positive story about her website traffic. Obviously data is limited and it is still early but the net affect was upward.

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 11.24.08 AM

Even more positive though was the increases she saw in neighborhoods surrounding Buffalo:

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 11.32.15 AM

This last bit of improvement shown in the analytics at the more granular levels of suburbs and neighborhoods is interesting. As the users move more and more to mobile search not only has there been a decline in city level searches (i.e. jewelry buffalo) but the searches will be occurring with Google having a much better handle on the actual users real location rather than a very approximate desktop location.

As I drove up to Buffalo last week, I did an experiment where I requested a non geo modified search query (self storage) that returned mobile Map Packs and I did so about every 5 minutes as I approached Buffalo from the rural south towns.

Initially the iPhone Google app returned results within 7 mile distance of me, this dropped to 5 miles and then as the density of storage companies increased closer to urban Buffalo the stated distance from me dropped to 3 miles.  (It is interesting that the iPhone app actually states the distance as part of the results when using voice search.)

When I added the modifier “nearby” the distance dropped to 2 miles. And about every 5-10 minutes, as I headed down the road, Google returned different search results within those increasingly restrictive radii. Upon arrival to the suburbs, I voice searched for “Jewelers” and the distance noted was 5 miles. The search for “DUI lawyers” (Google must think I am a reprobate) was 7 miles and did in fact return a pack local result unlike the desktop search.

This real world testing of searching via mobile as you move through an urban landscape is something that MozCast or Whitespark can not begin to measure using their tools. To a large extent we are forced to drive blind on what is really happening across the broad range of devices & locations that searchers are using.

The bottom line in all of this? Searcher behavior is changing and Google is changing right along with it. The problem that we have is that we don’t really have the tools to fully understand some of these changes and really measure their impacts on the local business.

So far though, at least in the case of Barbara, while she did give up some important pack results she has seem some modest gains in web traffic. Let’s hope that the (as yet unmeasurable) impact on her business is neutral.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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35 thoughts on “Pigeon – An Anecdotal Impact Report”

  1. That is a good effort, Mike. I did something like that for a five day post Pigeon period for one of our smb’s.

    I did several different things, though.
    1. I looked at google traffic and then google plus direct traffic, as some “significant portion of direct traffic is probably search traffic.

    2. The smb in question uses extensive adwords on “all money terms”. Its extensive. I’ve only measured against the 5 day period that preceded pigeon (Sunday to Thursday in both examples). We accounted for the difference in “impressions for those search terms” during the two periods.

    There was a significant drop in impressions for “money terms” during the post pigeon period versus the week before. Both google traffic alone and google + direct traffic were pretty close in both weeks.

    With a drop in impressions, we assumed that holding steady for google traffic (plus G and direct traffic) for the post pigeon period was a positive for that business.

    We’ll see over the long term.

    3. I DIDN’T compare by nearby towns. That is a great idea as it ties to the relevant local traffic. I’m going to take a look at that.

    But all these are individual case by case examples. It would be better to get large scale data from some group that is managing a lot of accounts.

    Still I suspect the “changes” are going to be “case by case” as the visibility for different smb’s is going to be a function of many variables.

  2. @dave
    Absolutely agree that it would be great look at this across many listings but ….

    A working hypothesis: Desktop searches were more disrupted than mobile searches when viewed at the level of granularity that Google is now using.

    If that is the case then
    1)We would expect to see less impact on those local sites that have a higher reliance on mobile searchers
    2)We would expect to see increases at a neighborhood, locale level as I noted.

    I didn’t have access to any sites with high mobile traffic. Barbara is about 15% at this point. I would love to hear from folks that do have sites with a large amount of very localized mobile traffic to see what happened to them.

  3. Mike: The site I looked at probably gets about 40% mobile.

    I just glanced at some longer time period data to ascertain the # of cities/towns to compare over time. Cr@p. Of the cities w/most traffic I counted 70 of the top 100 that are logical, could and do turn up customers and for which we could compete.

    70 cities and subcities. Damn. That is too many to compare on a 1 by 1 basis.

    It has relevancy in the context that competitors strategically located in a region could outrank your business on a basis of “closeness” or proximity for various relevant search terms.

    I very much like comparing traffic and visits against Impressions from adwords. At any time # of searches for relevant phrases could increase or decrease.

    For all you know, Mike, there could be a “rash” of people getting divorced or separated in the “post pigeon period”. Maybe they are looking up “appraisals” rather than rings. 😉

    Overall I suspect that would be “bad” for immediate business rather than good. 😉

    ….and you know what??? Google knows that data and we and the merchants DON”T KNOW that anymore since they took away the ability to know what keywords are hitting the site.

    Google has all the knowledge. We have bupkiss!

    (its another value in having widespread adwords–and I’m sure big Goog knows that as they push out adwords to smbs. 😀 )

  4. @Dave
    Absolutely Google has the data and we don’t. And they don’t really offer an end to end tool that can really cover all of the bases to know whether Barbara is significantly better or worse off then last week.

  5. This is a great piece, Mike.

    What you describe about the overall (positive) effect for Barbara is telling. If Pigeon helps anyone, it would seem to help businesses in the ‘burbs. With the increased location sensitivity, they’re more likely to be competing against each other rather than against each other AND against the businesses in the center of town.

    And that’s not a bad UX, if you ask me. Especially for mobile.

  6. This is a very poor decission on Googles part especially for those service businesses that were forced to hide their address a few years back. Your thoughts on this? We have seen our Organic ranking increase to #1 position but our pack is all over the place. Not good.

  7. I would also like your thoughts regarding Googles decision for service providers to “hide their address” policy, does it still apply. I see a rampage of service providers avoiding “violation punishment” and who are being “saved” from the dumpster. Does this location tracking mean service providers are now free to display their address????

  8. @Phil
    It is early but that is what I think is happening. And as the shoppers switch to mobile she will be well positioned in both the upper scale neighborhoods.

    That being said for her to lose out on the pin for “Jewelry Buffalo” means that the folks coming up from rural shopping area to the south and those coming in from Toronto are less likely to find her.

    Obviously each area has its own unique shopping patterns and Google’s average might work well in one area and not in another.

    Time will tell. I wish we had better tools to measure this stuff though.

  9. To echo the others, very helpful post, Mike.

    It is clearly getting harder (or less easy) to do the work we do. Harder because it’s getting more complex. Harder because we don’t have simple or relatively simple tools to help.

    What you did for Barbara is, obviously, not scalable. It’s time intensive, and time is money. Most SMB’s cannot afford to pay for that kind of help.

    The good news is many SMB’s will likely be helped by this. For some who’ve had it easy or gotten lucky over the past few years, it could be tough going. And, unfortunately, we’ll all have to deal with the garbage that still seems to show up.

  10. @Bill

    It might be harder. But the results are less obvious and less easy to demonstrate wouldn’t you say? That big, fat desktop Google SERP is not an easy win and is no guarantee that it drives traffic but it is a great way to impress clients. In that way it is harder.

    Even Barbara can’t afford what I do for Barbara. 🙂 So for sure most SMBs can’t. In many ways that is also a failure that falls to Google My Business – the promise of search visibility by filling out a simple form… Problem is it is bullshit.

  11. Hi Mike

    A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about a patent that described how
    Google might get more local organic results into sets of search results for
    terms, in the following post:

    How Google May Identify Implicitly Local Queries

    Google recently published an updated version of the patent – a continuation
    patent – which keeps the description part of the patent, but updates the
    claims section, to refine and update those. They added an inventor when
    they did that, Navneet Panda, whom Google’s panda update was named after.

    At least a couple of things about the re-written patent claims that were
    interested. (1) Local maps results were added, so that more maps results
    would appear in results in response to this, and (2) a quota of maps
    results appears to have been set, so that a certain number of local results
    would be called for to appear in response to queries.

    The new version of the patent (and patent claims) is here:

    So, the claims from the new patent and the claims from the old patent need
    to be compared, and the changes that the Pigeon update should be checked to
    see if the new claims look like they are a result of the rewriting of that

    I know a little about the Pigeon update, but not enough to tell whether or
    not they might be a good match. I asked Dean Cruddance take a look, too.
    But we both aren’t sure.

    The old version of the patent is here:

    Any thoughts? 🙂

  12. Mike: I went back and looked at stats for the one site I’ve checked post pigeon against pigeon results. Specifically I matched against insights from “my business”.

    Generally these are not stats I trust or use. Over many years as you know, and we have discussed the info Google has sent into the local business via its local account has been flawed, at one time, systemically messed up, and generally not descriptive. So I tend not to trust or use it.

    I went back to the single smb I’ve checked post pigeon. I measured daily ‘impressions” via the “my business” data and compared to pretty extensive adwords impressions.

    The adwords account is very detailed including most $ terms (ie terms that generate contact forms) and then a huge expansion of terms that I need to cut down. The expansion of terms has occurred because google has thrown “broad term” adwords into an extraordinary variety of phrases that “don’t work” but do contribute to its growth of adwords income.

    For the one business here is what I saw on impressions from
    A. My business insights
    B. Specific money terms from adwords for a geo territory that definitely covers the logical area from where customers come
    C. The entire volume of adwords terms including the cr@p/ or non relevant phrases google has thrown in via “broad term” usage. (I’ve really got to cut that stuff down).

    Also the geo boundaries on the adwords account are at one level very extensive. They mirror from the vast region from where we get customers. Its geo extensive. It extends beyond from where we get most customers. We track the addresses of leads and of sales. We are very specific and knowledgeable on this level.

    In sum, MY BUSINESS insights roughly tells us that there are almost TWICE as many IMPRESSIONS for this business than the core $ keywords in our adwords account. MY BUSINESS insights includes views of our G+ page in google search plus views of our smb pic and views of our posts. We know that the posts have done virtually nothing for contacts or business….and over many years with some significant visibility in Images…that has done nothing for sales and contacts.

    My conclusion for the business we analysed is that MY BUSINESS INSIGHTS raw impressions data might be about twice or more the logical geo relevance of the smb. (AND that smb can draw from a REGIONAL basis that extends 50 miles or more in some cases. Pretty geographically broad.

    I never liked data inside the LOCAL account. Google plays and manipulates it too much. It used to provide your “top ten” search phrases…except it cut out the geo description within those phrases.

    Cripes!!!!! How controlling is that!!!!!! That is manipulated LOUSY data PURPOSEFULLY fed to you.

    Its really not insightful or helpful. As Bill Bean said above top notch analysis that really helps smb’s is MORE DIFFICULT. Google purposefully delivers minimal data. Meanwhile Google hordes the data and then it uses it for its own purposes.

    Now as referenced many times in the past we use extensive adwords for all our smbs. Its information is better. I don’t entirely trust it either. Over many years for a number of accounts I keep seeing flaws and mistakes. But I believe its better, more accurate, generally more granular.

    Its also expensive. Make no mistake about that.

    Of all data google provides the only piece that one can generally check with a third party is analytics. You can check your logs for traffic. Alternatively you can run a second analytics program. If the two different programs generally provide similar data you can feel comfortable with that data. I would suggest being extremely skeptical about everything else.

    Finally one other thing about the MY BUSINESS insights data. It measures google+ visibility. Well frankly for our various smb’s in a couple of different verticals and in different markets, we have seen a reasonable amount of very valuable traffic that comes from pure organic results wherein a map or a google + ID NEVER appears. Never. Local NEVER helps us there. But its REALLY valuable. So we continue to work on organic traffic as it leads to things like site visits, interest in our services, and sales. I wouldn’t preclude it or ignore it. It works.

  13. “the promise of search visibility by filling out a simple form… ” There is so much involved with having a simple presence on Google Maps. For instance, after the Pigeon Droppings update I had a client whose business location jumped to the next city over, which is according to Google.. 16.8 miles apart. Really? What small business owner has time to figure that one out? It had just disappeared from the maps listings altogether.

    Only certain businesses can and will be able to afford to play. There’s a lot to keep up with. Google almost has Virtual Real Estate where they want it. It’s becoming a pay to play scenario in the virtual world of search, much like the real world and Prime Real Estate. Google is ever evolving like a booming Metropolis.

  14. Am I the only person alarmed by the fact you were doing a this research while driving? Instead of “don’t text and drive,” I’m starting a “don’t local SEO and drive” campaign. 🙂

  15. What I have been seeing is a big difference between the search “jewelry” and the search “jewelry buffalo”. When I set my location for Buffalo and search “jewelry” I get a wide search that only shows the top, most heavily optimized websites for about a 12 mile radius. When I search “jewelrey buffalo” I see a smaller, more like 6 mile radius. I have seen this exact thing on my personal area of interest which is dentistry. I checked the 3 largest cities in Texas and they were all giving the same thing – big wide area for “dentist”, smaller area for “san antonio dentist” – though of course still favoring the larger websites and especially favoring chains.

  16. @Matt
    Ah, what a local seo geek won’t risk to get at the answers! Thanks for your concern, they are noted.

    The voice search part was easy, its the screen saves that were a bit dicey.

  17. Excellent sleuthing, Mike! You’ve done a great job of examining how Pigeon may have affected proximity.

    But I’m also intrigued by the first announced factor: ” Local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals.”

    I take that to mean that whereas formerly the only things that may have mattered in local ranking were things like proximity, relevancy, and reviews, now the sites overall SEO authority is also part of its local (not just general search) ranking. What do you think?

    That might explain anomalies we keep seeing, such as a search for “auto parts store” that had a store more distant from our location than any of the others in the 7-pack ranking as #1 in that pack.

    1. I take that to mean that whereas formerly the only things that may have mattered in local ranking were things like proximity, relevancy, and reviews, now the sites overall SEO authority is also part of its local (not just general search) ranking. What do you think?

      This transition to web ranked signals (and now the merging of the two algos into a single algo) has been happening in stages since 2010 with “blended results”. A similarly big impetus came to local in early 2012 with Venice. That became very obvious in October 2013 when the blended results went away and there were many, many entities showing in the SERPS twice; once for organic and once for local.

      Exactly the role that the organic algo is playing though is hard to ascertain as the organic algo has been changing right along as well. It would seem to me that Google’s move to the knowledge graph and their ability to ascertain and rank brands with the organic algo (which came out of local) is being broadened to now include local. But as you have pointed out so many times that it is hard to figure out which variable(s) is (are) actually driving the change.

  18. I get VERY nervous about using data that floats into the My Business sources as data for a business.

    Doing some things like you did Mike: Here is some data for one smb during part of the post pigeon period

    7/26 to 8/2.

    Close approximations
    ~850 Google visits
    ~250 Direct visits (majority coming on mobiles. I bet half or more are searches on google)
    ~240 of the google visits were via adwords
    ~175 of the google visits are reported by the My Business Data. I assume those are clicks on the smb site on the PAC.

    Now if about 150 of the direct visits were google searches that would give a total of about 1,000.
    240 visits via adwords.
    175 visits via data from MY Business representing clicks on the PAC.
    That would suggest 585 visits via organic traffic.

    Google TELLS us the data in My Business isn’t necessarily accurate. We simply don’t know how accurate or inaccurate it is.

    Analytics total traffic closely matched a 2nd and different analytics package. Pretty confident on total traffic and less confident on breakdowns.

    My gut and experience for keyword traffic is that traffic and visits to the PAC are deeply under reported via My Business Page data.

    But we don’t know. I reiterate, as Bill Bean said above, its incredibly hard to know what is occurring. We simply don’t have organic keyword traffic.

    Google has it. They aren’t sharing. They horde it.

  19. @Andy
    I don’t have a very big sample of SAB’s yet. The one I looked at it appeared that Google used their real address to center their location rather than their service area. If that is a case that is a problem.

  20. Mark, the previous blended algo, prior to pigeon better mirrored organic.

    Prior to 7/24 the algo was 90% or so about organic ranking factors. # of reviews and other local factors didn’t factor in that strongly.

    So I don’t know what Google meant by that comment. IMO Pigeon isn’t as closely aligned with organic ranking factors as it used to be.

    There is something else at play that I have not figured out. For example more unclaimed bare G+ Local pages are ranking that have no website at all and no reviews. So what’s making those listings rise to the top. Certainly not organic since there is no site at all.

    Nothing really correlates well and this thing keeps changing, so is super hard to figure out. Maybe that’s the point!

    And Google just reportedly said: “we probably won’t detail all the changes to local search algorithms as we go” so sounds like she intends to keep us guessing!

  21. Excellent work Mike.

    I’ll share an anecdote here as well, which I hope the group finds interesting.

    I have a client who is a “Divorce Lawyer is Las Vegas”. Before one of the Penguins (sorry, too lazy to look), her site ranked top five (organic) for her primary queries.

    When we began work on the project 6 months ago, she ranked around 125 (organic) for those same keywords. It was a pretty straight forward Penguin-related link penalty.

    Her local rankings were similarly low (70-100), that is until Pigeon.

    Today she is ranking 10-15 in local results for her primary queries, and is in the 7 pack for some less competitive queries.

    Now, we have been focusing heavily on local optimization over the past 6 months, so I would hope there would be some positive movement.

    Even still, this is a competitive market, and we’re talking about a business with zero reviews on Google and substantial lingering data confusion as the result of 4 different previous locations.

    It makes me wonder whether Pigeon is missing Penguin.

    That is, whether this new version of the local algorithm is not weighing links the same way that the Penguin filter does.

    Would love to hear the group’s thoughts!

  22. I’ve continued to look at pre and post pigeon results. I’ve been doing things similarly to what you did above. In fact I did some searches on jewelry in Buffalo, using an incognito window and setting my location for Buffalo. Tried what I think might be 4 relevant phrases: jewelry (and jewelry buffalo) jewelry store (and same with geo phrase, engagement rings (w/ geo) and jewelry appraisal.

    I’m sure you are on top of all those phrases. She had a onebox for appraisal with organic/map on the top of serps. For jewelry buffalo, your client wasn’t in the PAC but was ranked 3rd organically above the pac. I didn’t see her for jewelry store or for engagement rings.

    Now in the period before and after pigeon the site picked up a few visits from the previous period but the My Business Impressions showed a severe drop.

    More traffic but less impressions. What gives? Could it be that the organic visibility was helping in the post pigeon period??

    I say that as I’ve reviewed and re reviewed one of our own smb’s. In our case, some of the critical high volume phrases saw us lose a top of the serps organic ranking to a #1 in the PAC. In fact on some of the higher ranking higher volume phrases that turn up leads, our #1 organic was replaced by a biggish pac with the smb being #1 in the pac. Then below that space taking pac we have a 1st in organic…but its a LOW visible organic below a VERY big pac.

    In our case this smb has lost traffic from the pre pigeon period. Its also lost leads to same time period last year by about 15%. Actual leads are far far far more important than website visits.

    My gut is telling me TWO things, one of which I’ve suspected for a long time.

    1 st. A #1 organic on top of the serps is better than a #1 Pac when the pac is at the top of the page. That more or less falls in place with your client’s having far less pac visibility but a couple of great organic rankings above the pac (or being the PAC!!! 😀 )

    2nd. After all these days. Pre pigeon, or post pigeon I really can’t tell anything without keywords big pac, small pac, no pac, whatever.

    I’m working on a few things. Chief is to push organic back above PAC. Always liked it. Always seemed to work.

  23. @ Dave Oremland. Not true. We are a service company, who prior to Pigeon, maintained top organic search (above and below the 7 Pack) and #1 top 7 Pack ranking that did not matter if we placed Organically above or below the 7 Pack (we had 80 plus reviews that we lost during the hide your address attack, now we have 40+, still higher than the competition and hard earned) nonetheless NOW at various times of the day when our organic placement for is above the 7 Pack we drop out of the 7 Pack (along with our reviews) this DID NOT happen prior to Pigeon. Our Organic placement, either above or below the 7 Pack, still left us #1 in the 7 Pack. We rank high on Yelp and Angies List but since Pigeon I can tell when we are ranking above the 7 Pack in the Organic because of the phone volume. Ranking above the 7 Pack is not a good place to be. When Angies List placement is above the 7 Pack then we rank #1 in the 7 Pack and as #1 in the Organic just below the 7 Pack. Mid afternoon is worst for our 7 Pack placement since Pigeon and last weekend we ranked above the 7 Pack all weekend and our phone was 70% less active.

    1. @anna & Dave

      I think you are both right. It depends on the sales funnel for any given business. If a call to schedule is the normal first step then losing the pack and gaining the organic above it could well be a loss.

      If the first step is read the website than organic would be much much better.

      I think in bricks and mortar retail it might be in the middle between the two of you.

  24. Anna: With two different experiences, Mike’s call might be right. Placement and the preference of organic over PAC or vice versa could very well depend on the industry. Ours is also a service, but purchasing is a longer term decision rather than an instant decision.

    We don’t get enough of a volume of calls on any day that I could do the same as you….get a feel for which is better by virtue of phone volume.

    MAN THAT IS TELLING. If I were in your shoes and had that kind of response subject to phone activity I’d say the same thing. We don’t get that.

    My response is based on very long term observation with fortunately high rankings on most phrases most of the time, and situations where organic ranked above the PAC and vice versa. It is more gut than being able to measure response based on phone activity. Wish I could measure response the way you can.

    I’m still perturbed by a dichotomy in Mike’s findings. Traffic per his analytics went up (I hope he was just focusing on google). Impressions per the dashboard were WAY DOWN.

    That normally wouldn’t occur. I’m suggesting in Mike’s case good traffic during the post pigeon period might be a function of above the PAC visibility in the case of that client.

    The smb I’m looking at is not a jewelry store, like Mike’s client, but the price point and purchase decision is one that normally takes time to decide…in that case not unlike purchasing jewelry.

    We seem to do better w/ organic sitting above the PAC.

    Your comments are great. I take it different impacts for different types of smbs. If that is the case…great post.

    I still miss keywords. That has always been the key for me. I feel even less empowered with the impacts and changes from pigeon.

    On one other issue: The visibility of reviews. Good point. When you are in the PAC, g+ reviews AND RATING are highlighted. When you are out of the PAC they are missing.

    In the example of the smb I referenced (and we have a couple of them in a couple of regions)….we have polled customers after they take our services.

    They read reviews. About 20% use them as a basis for buying. A greater percentage reads them. Its probably “factored into” the buying decision, but its not necessarily the most important part of a decision. If the G+ ratings don’t show b/c there is no PAC or if the organic sits above the PAC then it creates a different situation, no doubt. All food for thought. hmmmm I might send links to some of those other review sites that offer “barnacle seo” and good reviews. That could help.

  25. A bit of an update. In the wee bit more than 3 weeks since Pigeon, and with serps that haven’t changed much if at all substantially since the July 26 algo change here is an update on our status:

    Traffic is down somewhat. Leads are down more from same time period last year. The drop is over 20%. Pretty serious.

    This smb is the one with most traffic and a high reliance on search of the various sites we operate. Since we run very significant adwords on all the terms that tend to produce leads I need to scrutinize that. But from a quick overview it appears that volume of searches is down…and it might be down by a similar level as the drop in leads–> over 20%. If impressions and leads are down by similar amts….well then I have to look at other issues.

    When I last commented on this Anna was experiencing something entirely different than us. She too liked the serps and strong positioning in the PAC wherein her reviews were prominent. For us, while we have great reviews, I think the stronger “thicker” top organic listing is preferable.

    In my many test views of the site in traffic I think the overall prominence was improved via pigeon. Our smb has more top of PAC rankings in more territory. But we lost significant situations wherein our organic site outranked the PAC. In most cases now we see the PAC outranking organic.

    Looks to me like we are going to ramp up some “non search” marketing efforts. I hope Anna gets to comment. 😉

  26. My client, (linked), was the beneficiary of the update. I saw them gain 7-pack visibility for “los angeles injury lawyer” and similar terms when they are located in Pasadena, Ca about 11 miles away. My daily “Total Views” went from an average of 64, to 196 overnight for about 4 days, then they adjusted back down and leveled off at a new average of 98. Oddly enough they are one of the only non local “Los Angeles” personal injury attorneys. I don’t really understand this because there are thousands of PI attorneys in neighboring cities that probably should be ranking for those searches too. My guess is that Google is probably paying more attention to title tags and possibly anchor text on inbound links as a ranking signal in Maps. Either way, this time I won!

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