How Google’s New Algorithm Levels the Playing Field Between Big and Small Companies

Google's new algorithm has become a friend to small businesses, helping to usher them to the front of the search engine line.

In July of 2014, Google announced a new algorithm that has become known among the industry as the “Pigeon Update.” It was explained that the new algorithm would “lead to a more useful and relevant experience for searchers seeking local results.” The algorithm in part was launched to resolve previous issues with Yelp searches – now Yelp listings appear at the top of a search page, if the initial search included the word “Yelp.”

Google claims that the update serves to increase the importance of “Web-ranking signals/backlinks,” increase the “focus on location,” and to also increase the emphasis on “Knowledge Graph results.”

The term “Pigeon,” coined by Search Engine Land, refers to how the pigeon always returns “home,” as it is the place that is most familiar.

According to an Entrepreneur study, Pigeon is considered “the most significant update to the local search algorithm since the 2012 Venice update. However, over recent months, many businesses have expressed concerns over its use. Following the implementation of “Pigeon,” a number of big brands have already reported a loss in organic traffic of 5-10%. However, large directory sites that are established and have a strong domain also seem to fare well as a result of the update.

Search Engine Land Editor-in-Chief, Matt McGee states, “It looks like Yelp and other local directory-style sites are benefiting with higher visibility after the Pigeon update, at least in some verticals. And that seems logical since, as Google said, this update ties local results more closely to standard web ranking signals. That should benefit big directory sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor — sites that have stronger SEO signals than small, individual restaurants and hotels are likely to have.”

Although there are some established sites that have benefited from the new update, local directory sites and listings have also significantly improved in ranking. In fact, smaller companies have become more visible in search results on Google than was ever the case before.

Tom Carolan, author of Goliath is Falling, discusses in his book the innovations and evolutions made by Google, which are allowing small business to rank at the top of search results alongside larger companies. Says Carolan, “Although there is still more fine tuning that needs to be done with this algorithm, it remains a powerful tool—one, when used properly, that can help smaller companies compete for a larger audience on Google, which had proven to be impossible in the past. Now, more than ever, small businesses will have the opportunity to stand out from the bigger brands and grab a hold of those local rankings.”

According to SEO platform BrightEdge’s data report, the following industries have already benefited significantly from the update:
• Hospitality (28% growth in Google Places results)
• Food (19% growth in Google Places results)
• Education (13% growth in Google Places results)

Other industries that have benefited, per the report, are as follows: Spa (+4.64%), Shop (+4.32%), Law (+3.55%), Medical (+1.83%), Transportation (+1.31%), and Fitness (+1.2%).

Many business owners are still concerned about what this update will mean long term, but in conjunction with a systematic online marketing approach, and the use of SEO strategies, small businesses have a better chance than ever to out-rank large companies on Google.

Contact Info:
Name: Tom Carolan, CEO
Email: Send Email
Organization: Parasol Leads, Inc.
Phone: 805 474 8111

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