August 2014
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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Did Ranking For Local Search Terms Just Get More Difficult?

You may or may not be aware but on 24 July 2014, Google rolled out another major algorithm change, this time focusing on local search results. Dubbed Google ‘Pigeon’ by Search Engine Land in the absence of an official name from Google, the algorithm was intended to align local search results with the web ranking signals used generally in search, however there seems to be more to it than this.

Remember some time ago Google showed its distaste of directories? Well now they are back. Yelp complained that they were not getting the visibility they deserved and that Google was manipulating the search results with its own content rather than Yelp entries – even if the searcher was using the term Yelp as well. Lo and behold, the pestilent pigeon flies past and Yelp are restored to page one for many local search terms along with other big name directories.

Ranking for local search

Google claim that this update improves local search results and makes better use of distance and location ranking parameters. I think they have just dealt a major blow to local independent businesses and retailers who cannot compete with the SEO signals being sent out by the major directory sites.

Besides, who likes using a directory anyway? It is basically search within a search and nobody that I have spoken to in the aftermath of the Pigeon will confess to being bothered to use a directory.

So what now for local search?

Is page 2 going to become the new page 1 for small local businesses doing their best to compete against the mega sites and bulging purses of the big boys?

When doing my own local searches for tradespeople in Birmingham for example, the majority of page one is taken up by Yell, Thomson Local, CheckaTrade, Freeindex, Trustmark, Rated People and myBuilder.com – to the point where for some search queries there is only one actual business listed on page one (local map results aside).

I would suggest that this move is just another one in the Google master plan to force small businesses into paying their way to the top via AdWords, which of course we all know they don’t have the budget for.

It’s too early to see the real impact of this update but if you are concerned please get in touch with the SEO it Right team today to talk about your presence online.

Frances Berry