Google’s Pigeon Algorithm

Six months after being rolled out in the US, Pigeon was launched in Australia, Canada, the UK and other English-speaking nations in December 2014. Algoroo saw the spike from Pigeon a few days after the last Penguin 3.0 update but its effect on search results has been pretty lukewarm in comparison to other algorithm updates.


What does Pigeon do?

Pigeon shouldn’t affect organic search results at all and only aims to improve Google Maps and Local results by interpreting search queries more specifically based on user location. This is believed to be somewhat due to the rise of mobile. In a nutshell, Google thinks the best results are those which are closest to the user at the time.


What it means for users: Faster Take Away

As mentioned, Pigeon is all about making search results more relevant to a user’s local area. This means that when you search for “Thai restaurant”, the top results should be within a closer proximity to your current location.

The Thai restaurant case is not just a throwaway example either. Some analysis has revealed “Hospitality” and “Food” queries experienced the largest growth in traffic through Google Places after the US release of Pigeon – 28% and 19% respectively.


What it means for businesses: Better Customers

Due to the radius of localised search results being reduced by about half, businesses with more specific location data could stand to do well post Pigeon.

Websites with strong Page Authority scores could see some positive outcomes as well. One study revealed that websites with a Page Authority score of more than 55 experienced performance gains of up to 20% after the US release of Pigeon.

If your website relies significantly on traffic through Google Maps, there is a slight chance you might see less views. Any views you do get, however, should be highly qualified and easier to convert into a sale.


What to do About It

  1. Claim and verify Places listings for all office or storefront locations
  2. Update your Places listing with as much information as possible
  3. Follow up with happy customers and ask them to leave a review
    Pro Tip: by adding “?&review=1” to the end of your Google places URL you can send users directly to the review box on your page, making it easier for them to leave a review
  4. Increase the authority of your domain by building relationships with business partners, improving user experience and developing content that increases engagement.


As with all algorithm updates, there is plenty of hype and talk about what will change but it’s still early days for Pigeon in Australia yet.

If you have any concerns regarding Pigeon or your site’s visibility in local search, contact us to speak with one of our consultants.