Have your location based keyword rankings been smashed out of the park recently? Keep reading to find out why and how to go about recovering them.

In mid-December Google rolled out their updated local search algorithm, dubbed Pigeon, to the UK, Canada and here in Australia. The Pigeon update first took flight in US English results back in July 2014 which provided some great anecdotal findings for us to compare with the volatility we observed in the local SERPs post December 16th.

Here’s everything you need to know about the recent update:

The Search Radius has tightened

Pre-Pigeon, a user searching for a “bars in Sydney” could have been served results from anywhere from Manly to Cronulla (and beyond) depending on the strength of these venue’s local SEO efforts. Post-Pigeon, we’ve noticed the map results for these types of search queries are interpreting Sydney as the actual CBD suburb rather than the greater Sydney area.

SEARCH RADIUS

The good news is that whilst the Pigeon update has limited the potential for businesses outside of these capital city CBDs to rank for these high volume searches, we have noticed that businesses slightly outside the city boundaries can still sneak into the local SERP result providing that the linked website in their Google+ page has a relatively strong domain/ page authority.

The Local Rankings are Now More Closely Tied to Traditional SEO Ranking Factors

As I touched on above, Google has stated that the Pigeon update now incorporates more of their traditional web ranking factors into the local search results. This means that now more than ever it’s imperative to employ a holistic approach to your SEO efforts rather than treating your local and website SEO as two different beasts.

To ensure that you’re putting your best foot forward in all regards, it’s essential that your website employs a logical URL structure including;

  1. Dedicated pages for each location of your business, &
  2. Solid internal linking from your homepage through to each location page
  3. Create (and verify!) a separate Google My Business listing for each location and from there link to the relevant location page on your website rather than just your homepage

location pages

Once you have the basics in place, you should then move on to building high quality, geographically relevant citations (directory listings) from around the web to those location pages. When building these citations always remember to include your name, address and phone number and ensure that these match up with the relevant details for each location (and that these details are easily found on each location page on your site). This allows Google to make the strongest possible connection between your business and the location.

When searching for these citation opportunities, you shouldn’t get too hung up on whether or not the link to your site is ‘rel=follow’ or not, as many of Google’s most trusted citation sources on the internet won’t allow followed links that pass authority in exchange for payment. In saying this, don’t be shy if you find a high quality, human moderated local directory that offers a followed link!

Finally, be sure to regularly check your Google My Business listings to ensure that there’s no duplicated entries and that you are confirming any Google suggested updates to your business details as soon as possible.