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If you’re like a lot of business owners, you may like to Google keywords related to your business (“insulation contractors tampa fl,” “kitchen remodeling san diego,” etc.). While rankings aren’t true measures of SEO success and shouldn’t be your top concern, I think I understand why you do it. And I understand why you’d be concerned if you suddenly don’t rank for keywords you once ranked for—or keywords you think you should be ranking for and aren’t.
So, why aren’t you showing up for local searches? There’s a good chance it has to do with the 2014 Pigeon update.
Why Doesn’t My Website Show Up in Google Local Results?
Is this a question you’ve been asking yourself as you type in various keywords associated with your business and don’t see your website ranking? It’s not just you. A lot of businesses have been experiencing this after Google’s recent Pigeon update (which launched a few months ago, back in July).
Pigeon was aiming to improve “distance and location ranking parameters” for local searches, but it doesn’t seem like it’s been all that great. There’s a reason why you may not be ranking for local searches—such as “insulation contractors tampa fl” or just “insulation contractors” in a mobile search from somebody in Tampa (which is referred to as intent for a local listing).
There has been a 20% drop in total searches showing local listings (also known as local packs or the 7-pack) and a decrease in non-branded local packs. After the Pigeon update, “proximity to centroid/city center” has decreased as a ranking signal, while “proximity to searcher” has become a more important ranking signal. What does this mean?
If someone is on their cellphone, or on their computer with the location setting on, and types in a search without a geo modifier (“with local intent”)—such as “landscape designers,” rather than “landscape designers richmond va”—the results displayed will be hyper-local. Why? Because the searcher’s current location will be used, and “proximity to searcher” carries more weight post-Pigeon. Basically, Google is trying to provide search results as close to the user as possible, rather than top searches for a general region/city area.
One of our clients recently drove around to different locations in his service area and Googled keywords without geo modifiers on his cell phone. His current location was used in his mobile searches, and he wasn’t close enough to his actual office, so he wasn’t showing up in the results. And a few weeks later, when Pigeon was released, it became clear why!
What You Can Do to “Win” at Local Search
Is there anything you can do about this so you can “win” in post-Pigeon SEO? Of course!
I’ll leave you with three recommendations:
- Work on building your brand and a good reputation. Why? The Pigeon “winners” we have seen so far include branded searches and reputable, high-authority directories like Angie’s List and Yelp. On these types of directories, make sure your listings are optimized and encourage customers to leave positive reviews, with keywords if possible (one way to do this is to ask them to specify what job they had done in the review—bathroom remodel? Kitchen remodel?—so it sounds natural, rather than spammy and keyword stuffed).
- Make sure your website is optimized for mobile. Why? Obviously, this has always been pretty important since we know people use their phones a lot, especially for urgent services (like if their furnace breaks down in the middle of December). But post-Pigeon, it’s even more important. Google is putting more emphasis on mobile search (people searching with local intent, often on their phones. How do you make sure your site is optimized for mobile searches? Lucky for you, we’ve written about this!
- Focus on the quality of your traffic, not the quantity. Why? You may have seen a dip in website traffic after Pigeon rolled out, but what really matters is qualified traffic. Google’s stated goal for updating its algorithm is to always be improving the SERPs and experience that its search users have—meaning they are attempting to provide better links to pages based on their search queries. But if you keep that mindset that Pigeon really was put in place to help determine how qualified your traffic is, don’t just look at the number of visits—check on-page conversions and other on-site metrics, like bounce rate, exit rate, etc. And think about how you can improve the conversion rate of pages that do get a lot of traffic.
Quality of traffic is the most important—after all, aren’t more leads and sales your ultimate business goal? You aren’t going to see an increase in either if you rank for all these keywords that drive a large number of visitors to your site who don’t convert. It might be exciting to see your website ranking all over Google and a significant increase in traffic—but that excitement will be short-lived if your phone doesn’t ring.
And remember, Google is constantly changing its algorithm, so don’t be discouraged. Six months from now, things could be (and probably will be) completely different.
Keep fightin’ the good fight—by writing high-quality, relevant, and informative content and building your online brand. And contact the experienced team at Blue Corona if you need help with this! Start by getting a free website analysis:
About The Author: Alanna is the Quality Assurance Manager in Blue Corona's Maryland office. When she's not triple-checking websites and content for errors and consistency, you can find her at the gym with her twin sister or urban exploring with her husband.
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