News flash: Google releases new local SEO algorithm on heels of Explore

Published on
by Brafton Editorial
Google just updated its local search algorithm with better technology for location and distance.

Google allegedly released a new local SEO algorithm that could impact geo-specific searches moving forward. Barry Schwartz reported on the development, saying Google confirmed the update to local web search and Maps results, but the search engine failed to give details about the number of queries this will likely affect. (Schwartz has now coined the algorithm as “Pigeon.”) 

The information available now provides three key insights for marketers with local SEO strategies:

  1. Most of the changes are taking place on the back-end of Google’s search functionalities – meaning there isn’t much webmasters can do to optimize their website content yet. 
  2. This update is expected to improve Google’s ability to rank based on distance and location. 
  3. Local results could start to look more like the answers people get for general queries, which means richer context-driven media.

“Google told us that the new local search algorithm ties deeper into their web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search along with search features such as Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms and more,” Schwartz wrote.

Interestingly, the algorithm update coincides with the release of Google’s new Maps feature, Explore. It ALSO aims Pigeon local SEO algorithmto provide consumers with better data about the organizations that are around them, putting information from the digital world directly into play with in-person experiences.

For now, this algorithm refresh only applies to English queries, although it’s expected to expand to other languages in the future. It has yet to be seen whether the new local search algorithm will give nearby businesses the best visibility, or how it will shake up results otherwise.

Have you noticed anything different in local results pages?

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  • Jeff Guest

    Actually I have noticed some changes recently, less pages appearing in search results from companies that are from out of the area but are optimising for local terms in other areas. Is the the pigeon effect?

  • Lauren Kaye

    Hi Jeff,

    I would guess that is the new algorithm at work. And it sounds like the examples you’re talking – companies trying to rank for geo-specific keywords in areas where they don’t do business – might not be the best results for local queries.

    There’s nothing worse than getting your hopes up about going to a store/restaurant only to find that it’s actually quite far away! :)

    Have you tried to new Explore feature yet? I haven’t, but I may this weekend to see how it factors in.

    Thanks for reading and for your insights!

    Lauren