58% Of Local Marketers Will Change Tactics After Pigeon Update
Columnist Myles Anderson shares the results of an InsideLocal survey detailing the impact of Google's recent local algorithm update, Pigeon.
There has been much expert analysis and published research on the impact of Google’s Pigeon Update.
In this post, I am going to share the results of some recent polls we conducted with attendees on a recent InsideLocal webinar, the topic of which was “The Impact of Pigeon.” (Note: webinar recording can be watched here.)
We wanted to measure the experiences and observations of the 600+ SEOs and SMBs on the webinar to see how they compared to the published, “expert” viewpoints.
We asked 4 questions, and here is what we found out.
1. Has Pigeon Delivered Good Changes For Businesses & Searchers?
- 69% believe that Pigeon has delivered good change for searchers
- 53% believe that Pigeon is bad for businesses
The general consensus is that Pigeon has delivered better changes for searchers than for businesses. The tighter geographic radius of results implies greater targeting of results, and the re-focusing of the “centroid” around the user and not the city makes results more user-centric.
There have been plenty of complaints about increased spam appearing in results, which isn’t good for anyone.
But this issue may be overplayed; renowned local search expert Mike Blumenthal pointed out during the webinar that increased spam is typical of other recent Google updates (e.g. Hummingbird), and Google will tackle this issue in time.
2. Have You Changed Your Local Search Strategy Since Pigeon Update?
- 58% have changed or plan to change their search strategy due to Pigeon update
- 33% won’t change their search strategy
The majority of those who completed the poll have either adjusted their search strategy or plan to do so. A number of Pigeon studies have pointed towards more power being given to traditional organic search ranking factors, such as domain authority and links, while pure local signals have lost power.
What the poll didn’t ask (simply because we didn’t have time) is what these strategy changes include. An obvious conclusion would be that SEOs/SMBs would focus more on such Organic signals, but is this a wise move? Google will release further updates which may reverse the direction they’ve taken here.
The consensus of the expert panelists on last week’s webinar (who were Mike Blumenthal, Joy Hawkins and Andrew Shotland) is that businesses shouldn’t obsess about Google. They are better off focusing on a diversified marketing strategy which focuses on activities which build their brand, reputation and relationships.
This will ultimately deliver more customers from a variety of sources and most likely greater search visibility with it. Google will reward businesses that have high trust & engagement factors.
3. Have You Gained Or Lost Traffic Since Pigeon?
- 37% have lost traffic vs. 28% who gained traffic
- 87% saw only a small amount of change
In this poll we asked about all search traffic; we didn’t specify local search traffic vs. organic traffic.
The results show that any shifts in traffic have been minor for the majority of businesses — just 13% have seen significant losses or gains. It’s likely that those that lost significant traffic have some fundamental issues with either their organic signals or their Google+ Listings (e.g. hidden dupes or “closed location” dupes, which are massively dragging them down).
Some industries have seen local packs stripped out completely (e.g. Realtors) so these are likely be some of the worst affected businesses.
On the whole, more businesses claimed to have lost traffic rather than gained. But is this drop in quantity offset by an increase in quality? Let’s find out….
4. Have You Received Better Converting Traffic Since Pigeon?
- 24% have witnessed worse converting traffic vs. 18% who have had better converting traffic
- 58% have seen no change pre/post Pigeon
Much has been made of the increased relevance of results since Pigeon. Tighter geo-graphic radii and smaller pack sizes should be giving users a more targeted set of businesses to choose from.
A common theory about Pigeon is that while volume of traffic may have dropped, the clicks generated would deliver more targeted traffic leading to higher conversion.
Unfortunately, the results of this poll don’t concur — 82% of respondents said they have seen the same or lower conversions, while just 18% have seen better converting traffic.
Considering the responses to all four survey questions, the overriding feeling is that Pigeon hasn’t delivered a major shock to most SEOs/SMBs. The impact of the update varies depending on the specific circumstances of a business and there are few clear winners or losers.
However, over 50% of businesses/consultants plan to modify their search strategies to cope better with these changes. These changes should certainly take a long-term view into account — i.e. less chasing down Google and more focus on building the reputation and authority of your business.
Given that both traffic volume and quality appear to be lower, now is a great time to diversify away from Google and build a more diverse customer engagement and acquisition strategy. If this is done well and builds brand value and authority, then increased search visibility should follow.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.