Thursday, 31 July 2014

Flying Pigeons: Google’s updated search algorithm

Google Pigeon
Is that a bird? An airplane? Or may be superman? No that is the “Pigeon”. Google has recently updated their search algorithm with undisclosed changes and the folks at Search Engine Land have dubbed it “Pigeon” as it lacks any internal names among Google’s mojo and the last one was named “Panda”. The update has only been rolled out in US English searches and will be gradually rolling out for others, though a timeline is not available at the moment. While this has led to a lot of speculation about its effects on rankings and relevance of search result along with more localization, we try to dissect and strain out whatever useful information we can from this update.

What it brings to the Table? 

The core changes have happened behind the scenes and are not fully disclosed by Google till now. However, it seems like it is affecting local search results. Some sources have quoted saying that local searches are now more tied to local information in traditional Google search and from Google maps. Talking specifically, you may now see the top carousel displaying contextual and relevant information in a visually appealing package. Also local directory searches are getting more preferences now along with Yelp at top result for searches specifying it, which also implies that individual items don’t show until 2nd page.

What is in it for Business? 

The most recently affected are small businesses. Small businesses may see an increment or decrement in their referral count, leads and other statistics. Major directory websites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Urbanspoon are experiencing increased page 1 rankings and some changes in search results. Google has also said that their new algorithm improves parameters such as distance and location ranking significantly, and is aiming to provide more relevant/contextual results for end-users but it may be affecting individual businesses to get a better SERP. Thus more localization can be a boon for directory based searching where as a bane for individual websites thus making your SEM all the more important to stay relevant.

The Reason

We all like to know the whys of every change that happens specially if it affecting us. Thus it is legitimate to ask why this sudden shift in focus? Right at this moment it is more speculation than fact as the rolling out is partial and it will take more analyzing to come out with something concrete. One reason can be the fact that Yelp accused Google of favoring their search results. In addition, users on mobile devices would be happier if searches provided them with detailed location, information and localized information might warrant a shift as mobile is becoming an increasingly important strategy. Hence, it seems like we may have to play the “wait and watch” game for a few weeks.

The Future

Some are already stating that Google has turned the world of digital marketing on its head. For any SEM professional this can be the most challenging and scariest of propositions to deal with. A high degree of adaptability and vision is required to taste success. As it is often said, “Survival of the Fittest”.

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