At the Deconstructing Pigeon Panel at SMX, David Mihm, Adam Dorfman and I shared a lot of data about the algorithm and how it had affected the local search engine results pages (SERPs). One thing we didn’t really discuss was why big multi-location brands may have been dinged.
Over the past few months, we have received reports that some big brands have lost 5-10% of their organic traffic post-Pigeon.
As we discussed during the panel, Google had told Search Engine Land that Pigeon focused on the following :
But perhaps the real insight discussed by the distinguished panelists was that Google had perhaps overdone it on its “brand” algorithm and it now was incorrectly interpreting a lot of queries as “brand” queries which was leading to a lot of spam.
For example, if you search [miami movers] you now get this spamtastic result (exact match domains, fake virtual addresses, etc.):
We think this is because Google is interpreting the query as a brand query. So if your brand/domain is “miamimovermoving.com” (rolls right off the tongue doesn’t it?), you are more likely to show up #1 in the pack results, effectively pushing legitimate brands down and/or out.
If we combine this “Brand” over-weighting with the “Location” factor, this may start to explain what’s going on.
The Location factor appears to have made “implicit” local queries display local results in narrower radii than previously. So if you search [hardware stores] and are located in Portland, instead of getting a Portland-wide set of results, you now are more likely to get a set of results that are only within 10-20 miles of your actual location.
Basically, Google is treating desktop queries similarly to mobile queries.
So, why would this hurt big multi-location brands? A theory:
So if this is the case, what can these big brands do about it? Some things to test:
Chances are if they beefed up the “web ranking signals” for their Pleasanton location page, it would jump back in the pack. Post-Pigeon, we have seen a lot of this kind of thing.
Here’s an example: My site currently ranks #2 in the local pack for [seo pleasanton ca] against some specious hidden-address competitors:
But if I go into my Google My Business page and change the website link (which currently links to the “New York Pizza” URL that ranks #4 in the non-local organic section) to my site’s higher ranking homepage, in a minute or two, you can see that the pack results get forced upward:
What I think is happening is that the increased authority of the linked URL from my Google My Business page now increases the “web ranking signals” for the entire pack. Interesting that we all kind of help each other improve visibility, no?
Now for the real fun part:
What do you think would happen if I changed the link from my Google My Business page to www.navolutions.com, the #1 organic result (Hi Joe!)?:
Holy Web ranking signals, Batman! We just popped the local pack right to the top!
Now, I am not suggesting that Home Depot start hijacking domains, but this is exactly the type of spam tactic we are seeing pollute the local SERPs.
Even though it was not enough to put Local SEO Guide in the top spot, it’s pretty clear that increasing the authority of the URL linked from your Google My Business page should do good things for your local rankings.
Ok, I’ve said enough. Talk amongst yourselves…
The post Why Did Google’s Pigeon Poop All Over Big Local Brands? appeared first on Search Engine Land.