Google released an update to its local search engine algorithm, dubbed the Pigeon update by Search Engine Land (SEL). The update was complex, including a number of changes designed to improve the relevancy and accuracy of local search results.
The biggest impact of Google's Pigeon algorithm update has been seen in the local "7-pack" results, the groups of two to seven pinned, local results that appear on some local queries. It has also impacted Carousel, the scrolling list of local establishments that appears with some searches.
Since the implementation of Pigeon on July 24, the number of search queries that produce local 7-pack results has decreased significantly. According to a recent Moz report, local 7-pack results have decreased by 23.4% since the update. It should be noted that while the cumulative effect was a decrease, certain query results have actually gained pack results.
Among the terms that have lost pack results are “sofa,” “liposuction,” “Social Security card,” “apartments” and “train tickets.” Meanwhile, terms such as “mortgage,” “lamps,” “VA hospital” and “apartments for rent” have gained pack results.
Due to the complex nature of the algorithm update, the changes are somewhat inconsistent. For example, some searches have only lost packs in certain regions. There are a few idiosyncrasies in what Google identifies as local searches -- for example, Moz reported that “California Pizza Kitchen” targets California, while “Buffalo Wild Wings” targets Buffalo, NY.
Average data pack sizes have also changed since the Pigeon update; the number of 3-pack results has jumped, while the number of 7-pack results has declined.
On searches that no longer produce 7-pack results, users instead find greater number of organic search results. The update has been beneficial for local directories like Yelp and TripAdvisor, which now show up on many local search queries. On the other hand, the effect on individual businesses seems to be negative in many cases, especially on queries where the 7-pack results have disappeared.
Have you noticed any changes to local packs on search queries related to your practice area(s)? Share in the comments.