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: