The Local Search algorithm

Google Pigeon was one of Google’s most significant updates. Understanding Google and its algorithm is crucial for website owners as it is continually updated to accurately respond to user search intent.

Google Pigeon is specifically dedicated to local search results, often termed the Local Search algorithm. If you’re interested or have a local business aiming for better search engine visibility, consider an SEO Specialist Course.

What is Google Pigeon?

Google Pigeon is the Local Search algorithm, an update connecting the local search algorithm to the traditional web algorithm.

This update, launched on July 4, 2014, in the United States, brought significant changes to Google’s search results, including features like the Knowledge Graph, automatic correction, and the use of synonyms.

It later expanded to the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. Understanding Google Pigeon and other Google algorithm updates is crucial for implementing an effective SEO strategy.

Take a test to discover if SEO is right for you

seo specialist test

Characteristics of the Pigeon Algorithm

Explore some of the major changes with Google Pigeon.

This Local Search algorithm enabled Google to calculate the geolocation of a business and nearby mobile devices.

This reduces the search radius and favors businesses closer to the user’s location (emphasizing mobile users).

For example, if a user in a New York neighborhood searches for “hotel in the US,” they’ll get local results limited to that neighborhood instead of results for the entire city.

Google’s intention is to better satisfy and understand users’ search intent.  Initially, documenting the effects of this update on local packs was challenging due to recorded positioning changes for weeks.

Redrawing map boundaries even led many businesses to suddenly be outside the Local Pack, where they were initially included.

This underscores Google’s effort to offer users increasingly relevant answers based on their searches.

In the case of Local Search, the focus is on the distance between the user and the needed business, providing a coherent result.

Google Pigeon and Local Search

Another noteworthy result was the reduction of results in the Local Pack from 7 to 3 tabs.

tabs in the Local Pack display local businesses and are shown when a search query with local intent is made, such as “pizza New York” or “plumber in the US”.

Over the years, Google decided to decrease the number of business tabs displayed in the Local Pack (initially starting with 10 tabs), and in 2015, it reduced it to only 3 tabs.

Pigeon in 2014 was the precursor to this strategy, which led many businesses to be excluded from local results.

google pigeon algorithm

As with many other Google updates, there was a temporary increase in spam listings within the Local Pack, highlighting a weakness in the algorithm.

Of course, the update was not designed to address spam, but it was later refined.

Since the Local Search algorithm was launched, many spam results have disappeared, and the algorithm has stabilized, presenting only high-quality results.

Google Pigeon Rank

It’s important to specify that Pigeon does not penalize websites; it simply prioritizes the best results for the consumer.

Since the arrival of this update, many local businesses have faced difficulties for the reasons mentioned above.

Google Pigeon changes the way SEO is approached for businesses with local intent, so to adapt to this change, one must break old habits through some simple adjustments.

pigeon rank

Register on Google My Business

This platform serves as a reference point for effectively managing your local presence on the internet. Through Google My Business, you can improve your business’s local search results ranking.

Within the profile you create, you can do several things:

  • Enter all your business information
  • Manage and respond to reviews
  • Verify your business locations
  • Update opening hours
  • Add photos

Focus on queries for a specific area

One of the main changes with Google Pigeon was the way geolocation was redesigned. Instead of identifying cities as individual geographic entities, they were divided into neighborhoods.

When changing the method of mapping geographic boundaries, keep in mind a few things:

– If you are in a very large city (with multiple neighborhoods), don’t focus your efforts and search terms solely on the city name but rather on the neighborhood name.

– Pay attention to the relevance of NAP information (name, address, phone)

Discover any synonyms for the neighborhood and use them in your online marketing strategy. Often, an area of a city is called by different names depending on who is visiting (e.g., a tourist versus a resident), and you should focus your efforts on those synonyms, as they represent search intents.

geolocation redesigned

Optimize your position in the best directories

With Google Pigeon, more importance has been given to directories, as long as they are of quality.

Directories are websites that contain a list of other websites, blogs, and e-commerce sites (often categorized), creating a kind of web classification.

Therefore, it is essential to be present in these lists, such as TripAdvisor, and maintain your presence within them.

The presence of your business in major directories is crucial not only for local SEO but also for the business itself, as users consider the information they provide to be valid.

optimize ranking

Don’t forget traditional organic ranking factors

Domain authority, creating good content, and link-building campaigns are factors that significantly influence local positioning.

Despite Google Pigeon changing many things, you should not forget that it hasn’t changed everything. Always keep in mind the importance of other organic optimization methods.

These factors are integral to SEO. If you’re interested in delving deeper into the topic, I recommend reading this free e-book.


Don’t let Google Pigeon leave you behind! Grab your free copy of our ebook today and soar to the top of search rankings

SEO-SEM Specialist ebook guide


Local SEO is always evolving. What is often overlooked is that the vast majority of queries for local businesses come from mobile devices.

To ensure that your local website ranks organically, make it responsive and optimize it, in addition to working on local SEO. Don’t be discouraged if your site has dropped in rankings due to this update.

Nothing is lost! Keep updating yourself on the basics of a good digital marketing strategy, and with patience, you will see the results of your efforts.


Curious about Google Pigeon’s impact? Contact us for a personalized consultation