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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Post Pigeon Geo Assessment – How Did Traffic Change by City

It has been a little over 2 months since the Pigeon update. And while quality issues continue, with some listings taking a hit and others gaining, Barbara Oliver & Co Jewelry seems to have netted out with slight gains in web traffic similar to what she saw immediately post update. Her total web traffic was down but her in-market traffic has shown a 5% uptick in the cities surrounding her in NY State and 13% gain in nearby markets in Canada that frequently shop in the US.

It is difficult to impossible to assess her MyBusiness analytics to know how things worked out on that end, given the inability to compare time periods and the lack of detail in the reports (boo to Google on this front).

As I noted immediately post Pigeon, Barbara had stopped showing in the 7-Pack on strong Buffalo centric head term searches in Local Pack like Jewelry Buffalo (although she and 2 other strong jewelers continue to show above the pack in organic). Thus I was curious to dig into the geo data to see where exactly the increases were and if there was a discernible geographic pattern to the increase.

You can see from this chart that web traffic on from Buffalo has decreased by 37 uniques when comparing the time period before Pigeon to the time period after, dropping from 258 visitors to 221. That was more than offset by increases in visits from suburbs just to the south (Cheektowaga) and north (Tonawanda) which saw 154% and 52% increases respectively.


Using the new My Maps, I exported the differences by city and plotted them.

It is somewhat easier to see the major shifts geographically if you zoom in although even there it is difficult to ascertain an obvious pattern. Given the lack of keyword data it is impossible to tell exactly what terms are driving the traffic in each city.

It seems likely that the extremes (Buffalo, Tonawanda and Cheektowaga) seem to be driven by new geo results within Pigeon. Those cities with smaller changes could just be normal variation or could be driven by changing results due to the update.

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 5.45.52 PMKey –

Purples Stars = Plot cities that increased

Red/Orange circles = plotted cities that decreased.

Barbara’s location is the black pin.

One of the “features” of Pigeon was to localize results down to neighborhood level. This meant a narrowing of reach so that those in the suburbs were often left out of city wide searches. This, for some, was offset by searches in in the nearby suburbs or neighborhoods. Cheektowaga is a mostly residential area with little high end shopping. It is likely that Barbara Oliver is one of the closest jewelers in that context. Clearly the decline of Buffalo based searches was due to the decreasing radius of Buffalo based searches. But that assessment raises the question of why did Barbara loose traffic from her “hometown” of Williamsville that has both residents and high end shopping and the even bigger drop in the next neighborhood to the east, Harris Hill?

I think plotting this geo information can additional nuance and understanding to your search results. I am not sure that it better helps to understand Pigeon although it does demonstrate some of its affects.