The news hitting the SEO blogs and sites at the moment is that Google have changed their algorithm for local searches. While they haven’t commented on this themselves, Jessica Lee on Search Engine Watch has called the new update Google Pigeon because, this being a local search update, pigeons always fly back home. It seems that the update has just been released in the US for now, but it will no doubt fly over to the UK soon.
So what is it? Well according to Search Engine Roundtable it seems that the local results for web designers and SEOs that disappeared in an update in 2009 are back, having a big effect on local businesses. Meaning that global companies are suddenly appearing higher up the rankings on a local search. Over at The NorthCut Blog Carter Bowles uses this example: searching “pizza” (with the location settings on, of course) will mean you’re more likely to get a global company (Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Dominos etc) rather than a local pizza place even if the global company’s outlet is further away.
Carter Bowles is also pointing out something rather dramatic could also be happening as a result – that Google seems to be abandoning Google+; particularly deserting the requirement to automatically sign up to Google+ when using other Google services, or in order to place their business listing on Google Maps or to get it higher up the search algorithms. We know that Google+ was going down this road anyway, due to it moving jobs away from the Google+ division of the company.
Google has perquisites of abandoning products before (remember Google Wave?) but what does it all mean for us? Well if anyone was thinking that Google+ was going to be the be all and end all for SEO then they better think again. Simply creating a Google+ account will, apparently, no longer mean that your business will be in a prime place in a local search. Instead it will be important to create a website or blog and properly optimise for searches.
Needless to say, we will keep tabs on this whether Google will be making a comment, or as soon as it’s spotted in the wild over in the UK.