Moz Updates Local Query Set – Revised Data Show 23.4% Drop Post Pigeon Update

MozCast has now updated their query set to better reflect what searchers are seeing. Even though their methodology was different than that of Whitespark, the new results showing a decline in 7-packs due to the Google Local algo update are much the same: a 23.4% drop.

It is interesting to note that one of their observations which correlates to what I am seeing, is a number of “these queries now have authoritative one-boxes instead of packs”. That is consistent with an Google’s statement to be using more web signals and in this case demonstrating a predilection for brands and one boxes ala Hummingbird. This brand preference might also lead to additional 3 packs often seen on brand queries.


Here is the communication from Cyrus regarding the MozCast update:

So, the fix to MozCast seems to have worked, and it’s as we expected – there was a drop, but less than originally reported. On July 23, before the decline started, we measured local packs on 12.06% of localized results. Today, we’re seeing 9.24%.
Interestingly, this is a 23.4% drop, almost exactly what Darren saw in his data (just read that this morning). Could be a coincidence, but since we used different methods, different data sets, and had no idea what each other were doing, I’d say that 24% number is pretty close to the truth.
Here are some queries that seem to have legitimately lost local packs (at least in the regions I’m checking them:
  • jet ski
  • condos
  • house rentals
  • money gram (misspelled – interestingly, “moneygram” returns a pack)
  • homebrew
  • wheels
  • subway store locator
  • resorts
  • apartment rentals
  • custom cars
  • gardening
  • jeeps (“jeep dealership” does get a pack)
  • wedding makeup
  • bed and breakfast
  • train tickets
In a few cases, these queries now have authoritative one-boxes instead of packs. In a few other cases, I’m still seeing packs on manual inspection, and I can’t account for the mismatch. Our code shows no pack for “used car” in Hartford, CT, for example, but manually setting location in Google does. So, this could be volatile.

Clearly the Local algo update (note to Matt McGee: can’t we do better than naming it after a pigeon?) has had an impact and a large one.

The more important questions though revolve around the real world impact on local businesses. Is there a decline in call? Is there a decline in driving directions? Are their fewer web visits? Over the next few weeks as we learn more about these real world impacts we can hopefully better understand how to advise clients.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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10 thoughts on “Moz Updates Local Query Set – Revised Data Show 23.4% Drop Post Pigeon Update”

  1. I am not seeing a loss of the 7 packs on any of my main customer queries for bed and breakfasts. I am noticing that directories are showing up in the packs, which they had not previously. I did see one instance of a one block for the queries “Hudson Valley bed and breakfast” and “Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast”which are regional terms. I have several customers in Cape Cod and they are feeling frustrated with the drop for that phrase. I also am seeing relatively new inns with new sites popping up high in the 7-pack, with no Google reviews, although they do all seem to have pretty good ranking in Tripadvisor and are close to what appears to be “city central”.

  2. It looks to be only affecting people searching from certain locations currently (data centre specific I would think with US IPs).

    For example if you search for:

    Using an Australian IP address (hidemyass VPN to do this) – 7 pack.
    Using a US IP address – 3 pack.

    AU results:
    Urban Garden Center
    7 Google reviews · Google+ page
    1640 Park Ave
    New York, NY, United States
    (646) 872-3991
    Rooftop Gardener – Bonus Gardens
    3 Google reviews · Google+ page
    182 Second Ave
    New York, NY, United States
    (917) 306-6776
    Plant Shed New York Flowers
    8 Google reviews · Google+ page
    209 W 96th St
    New York, NY, United States
    (212) 662-4400

    Plantworks Inc
    2 Google reviews · Google+ page
    28 E 4th St
    New York, NY, United States
    (212) 674-8111

    Chelsea Garden Center
    4 Google reviews
    580 11th Ave
    New York, NY, United States
    (212) 727-7100
    Jamali Floral and Garden Supplies LLC
    5 Google reviews · Google+ page
    149 W 28th St
    New York, NY, United States
    (212) 244-4025

    The Home Depot
    101 Google reviews
    40 West 23rd Street
    New York, NY, United States

    US Results:
    New York Botanical Garden
    90 Google reviews · Google+ page
    2900 Southern Blvd
    Bronx, NY
    (718) 817-8700
    Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    142 Google reviews · Google+ page
    990 Washington Ave
    Brooklyn, NY
    (718) 623-7200
    Howell Family Garden
    Google+ page

  3. Mike said: ” can’t we do better than naming it after a pigeon?”

    Today a previous consulting client that had mysteriously dropped out of the pack a couple months ago, emailed me to say that since the update Thursday, she’s back in the pack.

    She wrote:

    “Which is funny that a pigeon helped me, because my dad raised pigeons when I was growing up and I HATED those stinky birds!! Today, I kinda like Pigeons (at least the algorithm kind)!”

  4. Great coverage, as always, Mike!

    Can we starting taking up what your post leaves off? So far, the only solid advice I can think of for SMBs is that they’d better have strong citations on the directories Google is now pulling up higher for their core keyword phrases. This advice seems rather simplistic to me. Clearly, SMBs are going to be hoping to overcome any negative effects on calls/traffic/etc. from this, and perhaps it’s too soon to draw any good conclusions, but I’d certainly be interested in hearing what others think about creating a viable strategy for a single local business in the new environment!

  5. @Miriam
    What you lose one way you might make up another. I am not going to be making any proclamations until I 1)see analytics and 2)better understand what is happening.

    Certainly barnacle marketing has always been a good idea and continues to be but my feeling is that there is more to the puzzle. I will keep on looking.

  6. No discernible change I can make out in the UK folks – maybe US only so far?

    Mike – any more insight on the effects this has had? There was a lot of junk out there (UK at least) so would be good to see some quality improvements in many categories.

    Interesting times.

  7. @Marcus
    Google indicated it was US only so I think your observations are correct.

    Its hard to judge quality improvements. A big change is the widespread differences in the mapping view port used to ascertain which businesses to show. I have seen it go both smaller and bigger but the main theme seems to be a more specific geo targeting that usually makes it smaller. This has meant in some (but not all) cases that locations in the burbs lost their pack listing.

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